Firefighters scramble to prioritize hundreds of fires

June 25, 2008 9:40:11 AM PDT
With fires burning all over Northern California, you can just imagine the logistics of moving firefighter crews and equipment where they're needed most. More than 800 fires across the state are stretching our resources to the limit so CAL FIRE is coordinating efforts.

The 27 fires burning in Butte County are very evident with the land buried in smoke. The air quality is poor, making it very hard to breathe everywhere.

Most, if not all, fires were started by an unprecedented storm over the weekend when thousands and thousands of lightning bolts hammered Northern California. Those sparked more than 800 fires, some small, some large.

With conditions so dry, they spread quickly in a state that's suffering through the driest spring on record. Many crews have been fighting fires since Saturday, moving from blaze to blaze. Terrain is rugged in many areas.

A group of CAL FIRE firefighters had been fighting more than 24 hours straight and they're just extremely exhausted. Fresh crews from the Bay Area and as far south as Riverside County have been coming into relieve, but that's just not enough resources for each fire, leaving 200 fires to burn without a fight.

"It's a big area. We're talking from Madera County all the way to the [Oregon] border. That's a lot of land to cover and a lot of fires. Some are very remote, some we can get to. And what we're having to do is divide them up by county and triage them, and which ones we can deal with right now and which ones we're going to have to leave either unstaffed or with minimal staffing on them," said Julie Hutchinson from CAL FIRE.

Evacuation centers have been set up for the residents living near Colusa and Butte County. Many are wondering when this nightmare will be over. Crews from other states are coming in to help with the fires, but nowhere near all of the resources we need.

Send us your photos
If you have pictures of this fire or any other fire burning in the Bay Area, we want to hear from you. Send them to photos@kgo-tv.com and we'll feature them on-air and online.

MORE: ABC7's Bay Area wildfire resource guide and safety tips
MAP: Google Reference Map of California Fires
(From the Governor's Office of Emergency Services).


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