On August 13, BVFD members operating Engine 5436 joined four other Humboldt County departments to form a strike team to assist Cal Fire in fighting the Wye Fire in Lake County. BVFD members Kai Ostrow, Eric Martin, Shaun Studebaker and Daniel Stein along with Brandon Craig from Shelter Cove Fire all participated in the effort.
Once the Wye Fire was contained, the strike team was transferred to the Mill Fire outside of Chico. After several days there, they were transferred to the Ponderosa Fire in Shasta County where they finished out their 14-day commitment.
Participation in these larger operations gives us significant benefits. We get real-world experience in fighting large fires while working on large, multi-agency incidents, better preparing us in case something similar happens here. These out-of-area Cal Fire operations are different from our local volunteer service, since the department receives compensation from the State for our crew and engine, providing extra income for the department and a modest compensation for the firefighters to help offset their time away from home and regular jobs.
Big thanks to local pilot Ben Wilke, who generously donated flights from Redding to Garberville so crew members could switch-out between home and the fire when needed. As volunteers, we have regular lives and work we leave behind when we go on emergency calls or long-term assignments, so it takes this kind of quiet generosity and support from the community to enable us to be the ones out there in the field.
For those wondering, a strike team consists of five engines, each with a minimum of a captain and two firefighters, and a strike team leader. The other engine crews completing the strike team were from Humboldt Bay Fire, Blue Lake, Miranda and Arcata. The strike team leader came from Humboldt Bay Fire.
More photos can be found on BVFD’s Facebook page.