As the flames spread in Southern California, local fire fighters both paid and volunteer, are now at work in that disaster zone. Local firefighters from the Forest Service, Mammoth Fire and the Bishop Volunteers have headed south to chip in.
Sunday afternoon, within hours of the first reports of the southern California fires, a convoy of Eastern Sierra Fire Fighters packed up their gear and hit the road.
When we spoke to Bishop Fire Chief Ray Seguine earlier in the day, he was at the Hospital in Chino where one of the Bishop Volunteers has been sent for smoke inhalation. Seguine explained that on Sunday night one crew from Mammoth Fire and one crew from Bishop had hooked up with three San Bernardino engines and headed straight to work on the fires burning near Big Bear.
Seguine says that the Eastern Sierra Crews worked all night and into the day Monday, when the fire fighters were moved to the Running Springs area near Lake Arrowhead . Seguine reports that the local firefighters were able to get some sleep, but are now back out on the lines.
The Cedar fire in 2003 burned about 280,000 acres, 2200 homes, and about 500 other buildings. Chief Seguine says that with 14 major fires burning, the situation is worse than 2003. Its a mess down here, he says.
The local crews have really worked hard, running on little sleep, the chief explained, but so far they have saved a lot of livestock and worked to protect houses threatened by the flames.
As for the hospitalized Bishop Volunteer, Seguine says that he gulped a bit too much smoke. The Chief was at the Hospital to pick the firefighter up and give him a ride back out to work on the fire lines.
A relief crew from the Bishop Volunteers is scheduled to leave for the Southern California fires again tomorrow morning.