San Joaquin County has three strike teams working at different wildfires in California, but several local departments including Escalon haven’t sent any firefighters out of the area.
Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said with local departments such as Escalon, Ripon, Collegeville and Farmington working with small staffs under normal conditions, they usually aren’t tapped to send manpower on strike teams. Occasionally, some equipment is sent but rarely do they send a significant number of personnel to fight fires elsewhere.
“Somebody’s got to be left behind to take care of things here,” Mello said, adding that crews are working hard to contain multiple fires surrounding the region. “As of Monday morning, there was some progress being made.”
The SCU Lightning Complex fire that cover parts of Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, covered close to 350,000 acres and was at 10 percent containment.
The Moc fire in nearby Tuolumne County was close to 3,000 acres and roughly 20 percent contained while the largest LNU Lightning Complex fire was over 350,000 acres and 22 percent contained. That fire covers portions of Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo and Solano counties.
“We are all spread pretty thin,” Mello added of the small, local departments. Collegeville is all-volunteer while there are some paid staff for Farmington, Ripon and Escalon, also supplementing with plenty of volunteers and some reserves.
Mello said around this area, people should do everything they can to stay ‘fire safe’ and that includes doing another round of weed abatement if it is warranted.
“People who abated in March or April, a lot of that vegetation has grown back,” he explained.
He also urged residents to continue abiding by coronavirus restrictions and also to be aware of the air quality conditions and the heat index and act accordingly.
“Be fire safe and safe in general,” Mello said.
As far as the number of fires raging around the state, Mello said you would be hard pressed to not hit a fire zone with a dart if you used the CalFire map as a dartboard.
He said for now, local crews will be keeping a watchful eye on the fires around the state.
“We’re just hoping we get through this,” he said.