Thirty-five firefighters from Linn and Benton county fire departments and districts headed south Friday morning to help battle an explosive fire at Paradise, California, according to Lebanon Fire District Battalion Chief Mark Fitzwater.
Linn County fire departments and districts sent five urban-style engines and 20 total crew members.
“They met at the Pioneer Villa and convoyed down,” Fitzwater said.
Linn and Benton counties combined to send five brush units and 15 crew members, meeting at Albany Fire Station 13 before heading south, where, Fitzwater said, “They all could be deployed for up to 16 days.”
Philomath Fire & Rescue Chief Tom Miller along with firefighters Lindsay Taylor and Kyler Crocker left Friday for California to assist with the devastating wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise and has been sweeping across Butte County.
“We were notified last night that the state of California was sending out a request to Oregon for 15 strike teams to come help,” Miller said Friday afternoon while en route to California in Engine 232. “We’re headed to Chico to the Camp Fire.”
The Office of the State Fire Marshal activated the emergency mobilization plan to send those 15 strike teams with equipment and personnel to the Camp Fire. Besides Benton and Linn, other counties sending teams include Rouge Valley, Klamath, Douglas, Lane, Marion, Lincoln, Polk, Washington, Multnomah, Clatsop, Columbia, Clackamas and Yamhill.
California officials asked for help after the fire exploded Thursday and Friday, forcing nearly 30,000 people to flee the community for their lives. More than nine people have died in the blaze.
Paradise is about 15 miles east of Chico and 80 miles north of Sacramento. As of late Monday, the fire was burning on more than 110 square miles.
According to the Associated Press, there is little left standing in the community of Paradise.
Driven by 50 mph winds, the fire exploded Thursday and Friday, at one point growing an acre per second. The smoke could be seen in San Francisco, some 150 miles away.