USA — Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and ActingAgriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today announced that additional IncidentManagement Teams are en route to Southern California to assist with containingthe rapidly spreading wildfires. These teams are comprised of specialists fromeight state and federal agencies who routinely work together in responding todisaster and wildfire emergencies.
“California’s tremendous firefighters are not alone in fighting thesefires,” said Kempthorne. “The federal government, through the NationalInteragency Fire Center, has responded to all requests for assistance made bythe State of California. Last night, I assured Governor Schwarzenegger, SenatorFeinstein and other California leaders that the federal family stands ready tooffer additional assistance if requested.”
“I spoke with Governor Schwarzenegger yesterday and I am pleased that wecan help California by lending our firefighters, equipment and aircraft whichare the backbone for combating devastating wildfires,” said Conner. “Ourthoughts are with all of those affected by this disaster and we will continue todedicate all available resources to contain these fires.”
More than 2,000 members of the interagency wildland firefighting communitymobilized through the National Interagency Coordination Center are engaged in awide range of wildfire response efforts to several fires in Southern California.Requests for assistance through the National Interagency Fire Center began onOct. 21 and firefighters and incident management teams were mobilized fromacross the country. These professionals come from across the spectrum of federal,state and local wildland fire organizations.
Since the Southern California wildfires started burning, the followingresources have been deployed:
one area command team (5 persons per team) to provide communication and coordination assistance for several fires,
four type one incident management teams (20 persons per team) to establish an effective firefighting organization and develop the tactics and strategies for containment,
31 crews which include 25 elite firefighter hot shot crews specially trained to handle difficult and extreme incidents,
90 fire engines with support from 22 strike teams (110 persons total for strike teams) to work directly on fire lines,
11 water tenders which support the fire and aviation activities,
11 heavy air tankers to support the ground firefighters in attacking sides of the fire,
14 medium and heavy helicopters to assist the ground firefighters with strategic pinpoint drops on identified areas of the fire, and
six bulldozers to establish the line to halt further spread of the fire.
Because of the rapidly changing nature of these fires, it is likely that moreteams and equipment will be deployed today.
The National Interagency Fire Center is the national support center forwildland firefighting. Federal and state agencies share firefighting supplies,equipment and personnel to facilitate efficient and cost-effective firefightingor disaster management. Eight agencies coordinate and support wildland fire anddisaster operations: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, U.S.Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of LandManagement, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service as well as theNational Association of State Foresters, the National Weather Service and theU.S. Fire Administration.
Additional information and updates about USDA and DOI Southern Californiawildfire response efforts are posted on the Web at www.usda.govand www.doi.gov.For more information about the National Interagency Fire Center go to www.nifc.gov.