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Local fire crews respond to Powerhouse Fire

The Hathaway Fire is burning in a rugged area of the San Bernardino mountains.
Flames have scorched 1,600 acres. Firefighters are not getting a break, and resources are getting thin.

Back in May, the Springs fire ripped through the Canejo Grade in Ventura County. Just weeks later, the White Fire destroyed several campgrounds in the Santa Ynez Valley. Then the Powerhouse Fire charred more than 30,000 acres, and destroyed nearly 2 dozen homes in Los Angeles County.

“I went as part of a strike team, which isfive engines from the Central Coast,” said Mike Deponce, with Santa Barbara City Fire.

Local fire crews have responded to each fire as part of the California mutual aid plan.

“Whenever we need help, basically other agencies send resources to help, and when other agencies need help, we send resources to them,” explained Deponce.

Each new territory comes with its own challenges.

“It’s just a matter of going into areas that maybe we haven’t been to before. For example this one in the Angeles National Forest was in an area I was familiar with on the map, but not the lay of the land,” said Deponce.

Firefighters don’t expect to get any relief.

“One common theme is everything seems to be burning this early in the season. …Santa Barbara County had a series of brush fires. …We’re seeing fuels burning as if it were July or August,” Deponce said.

Despite the busy fire season, crews said they never compromise the public’s safety. They bring in off duty staff before sending anyone out to assist outside the area.

“We do have a draw down number that we get to, that when we get to that point of having so many people out assisting other agencies, we say we can’t do any more personnel,” said Deponce.

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