LANE COUNTY, Ore. – Crews from seven fire departments in Lane County shipped out early Thursday morning to make the nine-hour drive to Napa, California, to assist the state in fighting increasingly dangerous wildfires.
The Lane County Task Force, made up of around 20 personnel from Mohawk Valley, Pleasant Hill Goshen Fire, Junction City, McKenzie Fire, Eugene-Springfield Fire and Lane Fire Authority, will be in California for about two weeks, possibly longer.
Task Force Leader Barry Nelson said crews are taking six firefighting engines of various capabilities to the Napa County Fairgrounds. Assignments and more specific job functions will be given once crews arrive on scene.
Nelson said his team will be helping Cal Fire and said Oregon crews have experience fighting fires in California.
“They’re pretty familiar with the way the fire activity is down there,” Nelson said. “It’s always a challenge down there. Sometimes we get high winds and extreme fire behavior.”
This year marks the fourth year in a row that Oregon has sent resources to aid in firefighting efforts in California, the Oregon Fire Marshal’s Office said Wednesday. According to officials, 52 people from Clatsop, Linn and Marion counties arrived in Napa Valley Wednesday night to help fight the LNU Lightning Complex Fire.
Nelson said changing weather patterns help explain why fires are more severe in California.
“My guess is until the weather pattern changes and so forth, we’ll probably be going again and that’s my opinion,” Nelson said.