Update: Delaware crew in California as officials increase “National Fire Preparedness Level” to maximum of 5 on a 5-point scale
A wildfire crew led by the Delaware Forest Service is near completion of a two-week assignment on the Fork Complex Fire, a 28,736-acre blaze near Hayfork, California in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Almost 2,400 personnel are battling the fire that is currently 26 percent contained. The Fork Complex is one of several large wildfires in Northern California that together cover more than 223,000 acres, one of the major factors that prompted the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) to increase its National Preparedness Level today to the maximum of 5 on a 5-point scale, which means that “geographic areas are experiencing major incidents which have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources. Eighty percent (80%) of Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams and crews are committed, as well as the majority of other National Resources.” According to Aitor Bidaburu, chair of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC), “A significant amount of initial and extended attack and large fire activity has occurred over the past several days as a result of lightning storms that have intensified local and geographic response,” said “Given the continuing hot and dry weather and the increase in fire activity in the western U.S., the decision to move to Preparedness Level 5 depicts the complexity that fire managers are encountering to assure that adequate firefighting resources are available for protection of life, property and our nation’s natural resources.” According to the latest NIFC situation report, as of August 13 there were 73 uncontained large fires burning nationwide, of which 34 were located in Northern California.
DFS Assistant Forestry Administrator Kyle Hoyd filed this report from the Fork Complex on Wednesday evening: “Yesterday we held line during a burnout operation. Burnout was a success and we are holding it today. If all goes well today, it will be a win.” Fire officials on the scene report that Delaware’s team has “excellent crew morale.” With an increasingly high demand for firefighters and resources, Delaware state forester and veteran crew boss Michael Valenti of Dover will be leading a crew from Maryland that will mobilize Saturday morning and is expected to be assigned to fight fires in Montana in the Northern Rockies fire region. Valenti will be accompanied by his son Nathan, who will be on his first firefighting assignment. Delaware’s team could return to the First State on August 16 or August 17, depending on travel arrangements and flight times. Keep up with latest news on the wildfire crew on the Delaware Forest Service Facebook page.