Oregon firefighters are again being sent south to battle wildfires raging in California, authorities say.
Firefighters from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties are among those responding to the Golden State, where destructive wildfires have prompted evacuation orders for thousands of people and burned scores of homes. Portland Fire & Rescue referred to California’s second request for interstate mutual aid this fire season as “truly unprecedented” and that 2017 will be “a record year for Oregon fire crews.”
The agency said Tuesday that Multnomah County is sending five fire engines — two from Gresham and three from Portland — and a chief officer to California. The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office said California fire authorities asked for help from Oregon on Tuesday evening and that 10 strike teams are headed to help battle the wildfires.
Five more strike teams will head to California later Wednesday, the fire marshal’s office said in a news release.
“Oregon fire agencies have again answered the call and we are honored to assist our neighbors for the second time this year, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. “California helped us with the fires in southern Oregon this year, we assisted them in October and I am proud that we can again assist them in their time of need.”
The American Red Cross said 15 disaster relief responders from Oregon and southwest Washington are also headed to California to help those affected by the blazes. Beaverton, Oregon City and Vancouver residents are among the responders, according to the Red Cross, which said more deployments are anticipated.
The Southern California blazes have spurred evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people, destroyed nearly 200 homes and remained mostly out control.
“The prospects for containment are not good,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a news conference Tuesday. “Really, Mother Nature’s going to decide when we have the ability to put it out.”
Southern California’s Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous wildfires. They blow from the inland toward the Pacific Ocean, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons.
The largest and most destructive of the fires, a 101-square-mile wildfire in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, had nearly reached the Pacific on Tuesday night after starting 30 miles inland a day earlier.
The wildfire jumped the major artery U.S. Highway 101 to a rocky beach northwest of Ventura, bringing new evacuations, though officials said the sparse population and lack of vegetation in the area meant it was not overly dangerous, and the highway was not closed.
The fire had destroyed at least 150 structures, but incident commander Todd Derum said he suspects hundreds more homes have already been lost, though firefighters have been unable to assess them.