PLACERVILLE, Calif. – Fire crews have been fighting around the clock to get a handle on the 4,240-acre Sand Fire, and as a result, many fire crews are no longer needed.
Most of the firefighters came straight from another fire, and many are being demobilized – heading directly to other fires, or back to their home bases.
"That means we are taking care of the excess resources that we don't need, let's get them home," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Scott McClean said.
A Siskiyou-based strike team was released from the fire's Placerville command post at noon Tuesday. At the time, their destination had not been decided.
"As we're travelling through, even if we're [de-mobilized] going home, if they start a new fire, what we'll do is divert and start toward the next incident," Darren Dow, the strike team's captain, said.
This team has been working for nearly two months straight. Aside from sleeping when they can at a base camp, the crew members' only "rest" comes during the drive to the next fire, which can sometimes be a half-day or more.
"There is a love for it. You have to want to do it in order to stay up that many hours, drive to Southern California for 12 hours, and then go out and work the line for another 24 [hours]," engineer Brian Black said.
Cal Fire began hiring seasonal firefighters in January, staffing up for an extreme fire season that never actually ended, carrying over from last year.
There is no shortage of work for these fire crews this year, and there is no shortage of passion in each of the firefighters out on the front line.
"We know it's something we signed up to do, we enjoy coming out here and helping out the other units in the state, and we all look forward to it," Black said.