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Escalon Contributes To Fire Strike Team
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Wildfire season has exploded in Northern California, with multiple major fires erupting over the past couple of weeks. Escalon firefighter Cassidy Bohannon is among those joining the fight, battling the Ponderosa fire near Redding with a group that also includes Ripon.

"We are doing, for the first time ever, personnel sharing with Ripon Fire," said Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello. "In this case we supplied a firefighter (Bohannon) to go on their engine with one of their engineers and company officers, on the Ponderosa incident."

Bohannon and the strike team he is with left about 3:30 p.m. Sunday to head north, on a Type 1 strike team. Other departments sending personnel and equipment include Lathrop/Manteca, Manteca City, Waterloo/Morada and Sacramento City, in addition to the Ripon engine. The strike team leader is from Lodi, said Mello.

Tuesday, the group was assigned to fire line improvement and looking for spot fires, Mello added, on a 24-hour assignment before being off shift for another 24. The strike team could be released on Thursday, depending on progress with containment of the fire.

"The county actually has parts of two other strike teams, a Type 3 team that was demobilizing, they were on the Mill fire and an OES (Office of Emergency Services) strike team from the county that is also on the Ponderosa fire," explained Mello.

With the Escalon and Ripon personnel share, Mello said it allows each department to take part in strike team assignments that they might not normally get to do. The sharing makes sure each can maintain adequate staffing locally while sending strike teams to assist in other parts of the state.

"Ripon was struggling personnel-wise to go and we just couldn't go by ourselves," Mello said of accepting strike team assignments. "This (personnel share) kind of gives us the opportunity to keep our guys involved, they can keep their guys involved, it's just a great opportunity to see and take part in things they wouldn't get to do here."

While Bohannon is on the strike team, his shift is being covered by a combination of volunteer and reserve firefighters.

"Today we have a volunteer and two reserves in to support us," Mello said Tuesday. "We've been keeping busy with medical aid calls, a few little incidents here and there, but nothing major."