It has been a week days since a Connecticut fire crew mobilized and the members made their way toward the California wildfires. Since then, the team of 10 trained and certified Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff members and 10 local firefighters has been assigned to the River Complex. There they are helping to manage three fires merging on the Shasta-Trinity and the Six Rivers National Forests.
According to Brian Scott, a public information officer with the River Complex, the California crews are spread thin and with wildfires raging all across the northern part of the state, the call for help had to go a little further.
“We didn't have, on this fire, near enough resources early on to do all we wanted to do just because we couldn't get folks,” Scott said. “Now that we have the Connecticut crew here we are actually starting to get some line built out there.”
That handline works to stop the fire from spreading and with the River Complex already spanning more than 20,000 acres, Connecticut crew boss Rich Scalora, of Berlin, knows it is essential to save property and possibly lives.
“There are a lot of residential structures in the area, small villages that there are groups assigned that we are doing structural protection for as well. It is a very important area to protect,” Scalora said.
Scalora’s crew spends their days working along the steep California terrain and under in an inversion that keeps the smoke face level. At night they sleep in tents alongside similar teams representing 15 other states.
“Everyone is doing good. They are looking forward to getting out there and put another hard day’s work in and hopefully we can keep that good attitude and spirits up,” Scalora said.
The 14-day commitment is one Scalora said the Connecticut firefighters and officials from DEEP have spent the entire year training for and, with signs of thanks lining residential streets, it is clear their efforts are appreciated.