North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

AFD firefighters assist with Calif. wildfires

 

November 8, 2017

Courtesy Photo

The firefighters from the Arlington Fire Department were among the firefighters from various departments who traveled to California to assist the state with recent wildfires this October.

Members of the Arlington Fire Department helped residents of the state of California by going down to help fight wildfires in October.

California has had a tough summer for fires which continued into this October, with multiple wildfires stretching over more than 200,000 acres of the state.

Because of the emergency, the state requested help from out-of-state agencies and 50 fire engines from Washington responded to help.

That included one crew from the Arlington Fire Department.

"Arlington was part of a 21-person strike team," said Arlington Fire Department Captain Cary Stuart, who was part of the team that went down to California.

"This was the first time that our department has assisted another state," he said. Members of the Arlington Fire Department have assisted in wildfire protection before, especially when eastern Washington has had bad wildfire events, but have never gone as far as they did this October.

The team was there for five working days, said Stuart, and worked around the Napa Valley area.

Seeing some of the destruction that the fire had done up close was "devastating," said Stuart.

"We saw two beautiful homes and all that was left of them was the foundation, the pool and the patio," he said.

Their first assignment was a 24-hour shift.

"There were 10 to 15 houses on a mountainside that we needed to protect," said Stuart, who added the fire was slowly coming down the mountain and the Arlington crew helped to prevent any damage or any additional damage to those homes.

"The fire never came to us that day, but we did see some of the other crews actively battling fires," he said.

The team's other two assignments were 12-hour shifts they spent finding areas that were at risk of re-igniting.

"We would find areas of vegetation that were still hot and we work to make sure that nothing else happened with them," said Stuart.

Courtesy Photo

Arlington Fire Department firefighters work in California to help prevent the spread of wildfires this October.

The local people were thankful for the help from the Washington state fire departments.

"The citizens were excited to see us and were surprised to see that we were from so far away," said Stuart.

Other first responders at the scene were also thankful for the help.

"They were so appreciative, so that was really nice," said Stuart.

Stuart said it was a lot of work and a lot of travel.

"It was interesting trying to get down there," he said.

"That's a long way to drive with a fire truck which is not always that fast ... and also we had to stop for gas a lot," he said.

The Arlington Fire Department members are now back in their home town and most of the California wildfires have been contained at this point.

 

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