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Local Crews on King Fire Front Lines

The massive King Fire in El Dorado County has become one of many in the state that requires thousands of outside firefighters. Crews from Santa Barbara County are among those on the front lines. The fire is burning east of Sacramento near Highway 50.

Public Information Officer Ryan DeGuilio with Santa Barbara City fire says his department has joined a “strike team” that includes firefighters from Lompoc, Vandenberg, Carpinteria-Summerland and Montecito.

They are assigned to one of the zones where the 70,000 acre fire has burned.

The terrain is different than what they deal with on the Central Coast, and the battle is mainly in forest land. The crews have trained for this type of execution and teamwork and can be called out for 14 days at a time.

“They have large trees and big wooded areas which we have some here locally but not as much as they have. It could be a whole lot different environment than what you are used to on your day to day activities here,” said DeGuilio. He says each crew is briefed on the area where they will be sent and weather conditions, throughout the day.

Nearly 4000 firefighters have been called out on the King Fire.

The rate of spread last night was 10,000 and some crews had to back out of the burn zone until they could safely deploy again.

An incident report said, “There is a high potential for extreme fire behavior today. Although the predicted temperatures are slightly lower and the humidity slightly higher, the winds are expected to be as strong or stronger than yesterday. The fire is expected to continue to spread to the north with the variable winds and the extensive east and west flanks the fire is expected to make flanking runs when in alignment with slope and/or winds.”

The local departments say they are still fully staffed and have back up plans if a fire breaks out here.

The mutual aid system in California is very effective and has been used in Santa Barbara County several times including recently on the Tea, Jesusita, and Gap fires.

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