Overseeing the Tracy team at the fire, known as the Rim Fire, is Division Chief Andy Kellogg and Capt. Scott Arganbright with strike team members Capt. Dan Havicus, engineer Rubin Cortinas, and firefighters Jeff Brown and Ray Gonzalez.
The fire, which started Aug. 17, doubled in size from Wednesday to Thursday, engulfing more than 50,000 acres. Tracy firefighters were called to join fire crews from Manteca , Lodi , Stockton and Woodbridge in a strike team mutual aid call.
Each strike team consists of five engines and a team leader.
Together the teams from San Joaquin County caravanned to Stanislaus National Park on Wednesday, Aug. 21, according to Kellogg.
“We rendezvoued at Home Depot in Manteca on Wednesday about 5 p.m. and arrived at 7:15 p.m. in the Yosemite area,” he said.
On Thursday morning the Tracy, one of nine other strike teams from across the state, received their assignment — structure protection at Pine Mountain Lake .
“We’re doing structure protection of the entire community, 3,500 homes,” Kellogg said on Thursday.
“This area is their biggest concern for the next two to three days,” he said. “It’s going to get really rough over the next couple of days.”
Kellogg was protecting homes by removing wood pilings and removing combustibles away from the buildings.
“We’re prepping and triaging the structures,” he said. “We’re also looking for falling embers and small spot fires we can put out.”
On Thursday, Kellogg said the incident management team for the Rim Fire said during a briefing that this is the “worst fire behavior they’ve seen since 1987.”
“They don’t know what its going to do,” Kellogg said. “The fire itself is so erratic.”
On Wednesday, the fire had engulfed 53,866 acres, but as of Friday the fire had destroyed 105,620 acres with 2 percent containment, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
CAL FIRE reported the fire continued to increase in size and activity, burning east into the Yosemite National Park boundary and west toward the community of Pine Mountain Lake .
An evacuation advisory was previously issued for Pine Mountain Lake while communities along Ferretti Road from Highway 120 to Pine Mountain Road and Highway 120 at the Yosemite National Park boundary west to Smith station were evacuated, CAL FIRE reported.
As of Friday, the fire had destroyed 16 structures and threatened 4,500 others, spreading over approximately 165 square miles.
Also working at the Rim Fire from Tracy Fire Department is Capt. Eric Oliveri, who was called to oversee a team for the Bridges fire Aug. 17, but reassigned to a team at the Rim Fire Aug. 18.
Kellogg said he didn’t know how long his team would be working at the Rim Fire, but he said he anticipated it would be the full two weeks of their assignment.
Also working wild land fires in other parts of the state are two Tracy paramedics — engineer Kevin Meineke and firefighter Jeremy Ward, according to Tracy Division Chief Dave Bramell.
Meineke is assigned to a fire team at Siskiyou Fire in Klamas National Forest , while Ward is working on the Swedes Fire near Orville, Bramell said. Both men are providing medical aide to firefighters on the front line of the fires in remote areas.
This is the second season fire line paramedics have been used by CAL FIRE, Bramell said.
For updates on the Rim Fire go to www.inciweb.org/incident/3660/.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.