Southern California

Rash of Wildfires Puts Squeeze on Firefighters, Command Teams

With the help of the Black Eagle Firefighter crew from Porterville, the Cabin Fire above Glendora was coming under containment.

But rather than rest, what they got was a new assignment — the Warm Springs Fire that erupted Sunday 40 miles to the east.

"We jump from incident to incident," said crew boss Christian Arevalo. "Wherever they need us."

So it's been of late for specialized forest firefighting crews that travel to the latest emergency, and for the incident command teams that manage the massive task of directing and coordinating response.

There are 41 incident command teams nationwide, and all are currently assigned, the majority to forest fires in the west, according to Marc Peebles, a San Bernardino County battalion chief who is assigned to Southern California Team Three.

That team has been in command of the Cabin Fire as well as loaned to the Warm Springs response.

Another wildfire near Montebello was placing additional stress on Los Angeles County Fire Department resources.

The Warm Springs fire burned quickly through a camp once used by Los Angeles County for treatment of substance abuse.

The fire burned upslope into the Angeles National Forest before stalling at ridgelines and Lake Hughes Road.

Fire officials saw urgency to contain the fire before Monday's heat up or a shift in winds could bring it to life again.

Lake Hughes Road remained closed between Castaic and Lake Hughes. With air tankers using Castaic Lake to replenish their water, and with the lake's boat launch ramp unreachable during the road closure, the lake is temporarily closed to boating.

The Black Eagles got the assignment to climb a steep mountainside fronting Lake Hughes Road and cut line counterclockwise around the 300 acre burn zone, and eventually link up with a crew coming the other way around.

"Hopefully nothing blows up," Arevalo said. "We can connect and link, and get back to camp." He paused, then added, "and get rest."

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