Valley firefighters battle Kern County Wildfires

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nearly 200 Central Valley firefighters have been deployed to assist in Kern County, where two wildfires continue to burn. Over the past two days, about 60 firefighters from Fresno County CalFire and about 130 from the Sierra National Forest have been deployed to Kern County. A CalFire strike team of 20 firefighters was also deployed Wednesday afternoon. More are available if needed. "We have a lot of personnel and resources, we're still counting the people that were off duty the day that strike team got called out, people are still coming on duty. We still have engines at stations, covering stations," said Keri Watkins, a fire prevention specialist with Fresno County CalFire.

The shifting of firefighters has also brought a team of Smokejumpers to Fresno's Air Attack Base, ready to suit up and head out in an instant. The parachuting firefighters arrived from Redding Tuesday. When called upon, they jump out of a Sherpa and onto the fire lines, carrying 85 pounds of gear. Other tools are dropped in behind them. "All the food we need for three days, hand tools to fire the fire, with shovels and chainsaws," said Smokejumper Jerry Spence.

The smoke jumpers will stay in Fresno until they're needed or until the threat clears. But in Kern County, that threat is far from over.

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