Tracy firefighters help battle Rim Fire
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Aug 30, 2013 | 5262 views | 1 1 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A view from Tuolumne City earlier this week shows the fire known as the Rim Fire continuing to burn through the wilderness in Stanislaus and Yosemite national forests. Fire officials reported that the blaze was 23 percent contained on Wednesday, Aug. 28, and they hoped to stop its progress at the Tuolumne River. Contributed photo
A view from Tuolumne City earlier this week shows the fire known as the Rim Fire continuing to burn through the wilderness in Stanislaus and Yosemite national forests. Fire officials reported that the blaze was 23 percent contained on Wednesday, Aug. 28, and they hoped to stop its progress at the Tuolumne River. Contributed photo
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A Tracy Fire Department strike team was among 4,840 firefighters still battling an out-of-control fire in Stanislaus and Yosemite national parks as of Thursday, Aug. 29.

Overseeing the Tracy team at the fire, known as the Rim Fire, are Division Chief Andy Kellogg and Capt. Scott Arganbright. The strike team includes Capt. Dan Havicus, engineer Rubin Cortinas and firefighters Jeff Brown and Ray Gonzalez.

The fire, which started Aug. 17, is the second worst in the state’s history. It had engulfed 192,737 acres and destroyed at least 11 homes and 97 other buildings as of Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Three commercial properties had been damaged.

The fire was 30 percent contained on Thursday, according to the department.

Tracy firefighters were called to join fire crews from Manteca, Lodi, Stockton and Woodbridge to create a mutual aid strike team on Aug. 21, according to Kellogg.

Each strike team consists of five engines and a team leader.

Since its arrival, the Tracy team has been assigned to structure protection in Pine Mountain Lake and Mi-Wuk Village, outside the town of Groveland in Tuolumne County.

“It’s a week into it and it’s going good,” Kellogg said on Wednesday. “The fire is coming over Duckwall Ridge to the east of here (Mi-Wuk Village) and working its way to Tuolumne River. They’re confident they can hold it at the river.”

During a briefing Tuesday, Aug. 27, Kellogg said firefighters worked overnight to link more than 50 miles of bulldozers, intending to stop the fire in its tracks.

As the fire moved towards Mi-Wuk Village, Kellogg and his team worked with residents to prepare their properties in case the fire reached their community.

“We told our guys do whatever they (residents) want and told the people to ask them for whatever they needed,” he said. “Our guys have been going around helping the residents clear their properties of debris, trimming bushes back and clearing roofs.”

To show their gratitude, Kellogg said, residents have been treating the fire crews like family and providing them with water and food.

“They feel a lot safer with the guys roaming around,” he said. “They’re waving at us, happy to see us, happy we can help. It’s been nothing but acceptance and kindness.”

Kellogg anticipated that his team would remain at the Rim Fire for its full two-week deployment — which should end sometime next week.

“Containment is coming up a bit, but fire is still spreading,” Kellogg said.

Capt. Eric Oliveri, of the Tracy Fire Department, was called to oversee a local strike team for the Bridges fire on Aug. 17, but he was reassigned to the Rim Fire on Aug. 18.

Oliveri is working structure protection at Long Barn Village in Tuolumne County, but he is scheduled to end his strike team assignment on Friday, Aug. 30, according to Tracy Fire Division Chief Dave Bramell.

Also working wildfires in other parts of the state is Tracy paramedic Kevin Meineke, who flew with a hotshot crew into the wilderness on Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Siskiyou Fire in Klamath National Forest.

Bramell said Meineke was assigned to the team to provide medical aid to firefighters on the frontline in remote areas. He said this is the second year Cal Fire has used fire-line paramedics during wildfire season.

For updates on the Rim Fire, go to www.inciweb.org/incident/3660/.

Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

 
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cody01
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August 30, 2013
Be careful! 80% contained means they got all of it but the main part. In 2009 I went to the Yosemite valley and witnessed a unmaintained forest. Like a big book of matches.

I wanted to get out of there. Yosemite has limted access and exits. A fire in that valley, With all those tourist and, All that fuel could have been a disaster.

There would be nowhere to run. Budget cuts? Look what we are spending now!

Visitors from all over the world. Yeah! Make some more friends in other countries. This was a stupid fire. Could have been prevented. Should have been controlled. If I saw it, They saw it. Then; PG&E is getting sued for a tree that fell on a tourist, Killing that tourist. NO! This is a Federal issue! It is a Federal fire that spread into other ppl's business(State,County). If I lived up there, If I took any losses behind this, I would file against The Federal Gov.,. Good thing there has been no loss of life. TFD, Structure fires don't chase after you. Wild land fires deliver.


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