Dozens of Arizona fire crews are on their way to help battle the deadly Carr Fire as it continues to ravage Northern California, fueled by a lethal combination of hot temperatures, unpredictable winds and dry air.
The fast-moving wildfire is only 5 percent contained after burning through 80,906 acres — roughly the size of the city of Philadelphia.
About 37,000 people are under evacuation orders and another 5,000 homes are threatened.
As the threat rises and the fire spreads, California fire officials are requesting more crews and equipment to assist with the rapidly growing wildfire.
A fire inspector and a privately hired bulldozer operator were killed battling the blaze earlier this week.
On Saturday, officials said a great-grandmother and her two grandchildren died after the flames swallowed their Redding home while they struggled to flee. A Shasta County man who’s been leading a handcrew to fight Yosemite’s Ferguson Fire lost his family home in the Carr Fire.
Arizona already has more than 150 firefighters assigned to California, according to Tiffany Davila, public affairs officer for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.
An explosive wildfire that has torn through several Northern California communities, forcing thousands to flee while burning houses, continues to grow out of control. Firefighters worked feverishly to keep the flames away from more homes. (July 28)
Arizona firefighters have been helping with the Ferguson Fire that scorched nearly 50,000-acres near Yosemite National Park. Others are positioned throughout California to quickly jump on a developing fire.
The intensity, speed and fire-ripe conditions have made the Carr Fire particularly challenging, Davila said.
At one point, the fire was so intense it created its own weather system, resulting in a fire whirl that resembled a flaming tornado.
“The West is dealing with extreme drought conditions and we know the impact that has, we are seeing it in California and dealing with that here at home,” she said.
Davila didn’t know the exact number of Arizona crews that have been ordered to the Carr fire. Engines and fire personnel from the forestry department and fire departments for Highlands, Summit, Hellsgate, State Forestry, Golder Ranch and Mayer were supplying engines and crews.
Among them is the the Mesa Fire and Medical Department. Mesa Mayor John Giles said in a tweet Saturday that the department will be lending a hand for the next two weeks.
“The call went out for our assistance and our brave firefighters answered,” he wrote. “Proud to have them in our City! Good luck and stay safe!”
The Superstition Fire and Medical District announced Friday that Type-6 Wildland crew “could spend the next 14 days there.”
Historically, Arizona firefighters are sent to other states throughout the West to offer aid once monsoon storms reduces fire danger locally.
“(D)uring our fire season, we have out of state crews here,” Davila said in a statement. “We had many crews pre-positioned in Arizona to help us. It goes both ways.”
Davila said crews have already helped in a number of other states this season, including Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado.
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