As more than 14 wildfires continue to raze entire neighborhoods in Napa and Sonoma Counties in Northern California, firefighters from Hollister and other parts of California, as well as neighboring states, are racing to join the battle. Multiple fires throughout the region so far destroyed over 1,500 structures with a reported 21 deaths and hundreds still missing. Among those firefighters now on the front lines in Napa and Sonoma Counties are three from Hollister, who joined a Monterey County OES Strike Team (XMOI-2804) comprised of five engines, including one from Hollister, along with a battalion chief.
Hollister Fire Chief Bob Martin Del Campo told BenitoLink that the three firefighters deployed are Acting Captain Andrew Henderson, Fire Engineer Dave Young and Firefighter Michael Bariano. He said Captain Henderson sends group text message status reports every morning, explaining the various assignments his crew has been tasked to do.
The California Office of Emergency Services (CAL-OES) sent out the call to Monterey County to join other firefighters at what is called the Tubbs fire off Hwy 128 in Calistoga. The Hollister firefighters left Monday morning, Oct. 9, and will remain on the fire line for up to 21 days before being relieved.
As of Oct. 11 at 10:34 a.m., the forecast is for northerly winds to increase by early evening, especially over the ridges and upper slopes. A red flag warning is in effect beginning at 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night with gusty north winds and moderate to poor humidity recover. Critical fire weather conditions are anticipated Wednesday night through Thursday.
“They can be there from seven days to 21 days,” said Hollister Fire Chief Bob Martin Del Campo. “They haven’t been given a definitive assignment yet, but they know they’re going to be there no longer than 21 days. At that 21 day mark, I send more firefighters up there in a pickup truck to the Tubbs fire and the guys there drive back.”
Martin Del Campo said because CAL-OES requested the Hollister and Monterey County firefighters, the state will not only reimburse their salaries for the deployed firefighters, but will also pay the city for all overtime for those who remain behind to take the place of those who are gone.
“Today, the firefighters who would normally be here to work their regular shift at Station Two, but are out on that assignment,” he said. “So, we have overtime firefighters taking their place.”
“Right now, he said they’re involved in structure protection which involves one engine maybe protecting up to four houses,” he said. “We have the whole strike team taking care an entire residential area of 10 to 15 houses. All of the engines are normally within eyesight and they communicate by radio so everybody knows where everybody else is at.”
In photos sent from the area, Martin Del Campo said they showed that the Hollister firefighters are involved in stopping fires approaching the homes.
“They’re fighting live fire and protecting the homes they’ve been assigned to,” he said.
Over the 21-day period the firefighters will be on scene 24-hours a day, according to the chief. He said the men took sleeping bags and other gear in order to sleep on their engine.
“One or two of them will sleep and one is awake doing fire watch, making sure it’s not creeping up on them,” he said. “They’re parked in someone’s driveway, sleeping on the hose bed. We always expect the worse and they’re doing what’s called ‘spiking out’ in an area where the homes are.”
For the latest updates on all fires in California click on CalFire. Photos provided by Hollister Fire Department.
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