Fire crews look to new firefighting strategy

FRESNO, California (KFSN) – Many fires have broken out across the state in recent days, and although it is just the beginning of the fire season, fire officials expect the fires to continue to be more aggressive.

To help fight these faster-moving fires, they plan to use new ground-based firefighting tactics to assist their tankers in the air.

CAL FIRE has already dealt with more than 1,500 fires this year alone, and with fires such as the Orange County coastal fire and the house fire in Fresno burning hundreds of acres, firefighters are using new strategies to prepare.

RELATED: The fire in Fresno County has been reduced by 70%, the crews continue to fight with hot spots

“There is fuel, topography and weather. When all three come into alignment as we did yesterday, we have the disaster we see today,” said Chief Shane Sherwood of Orange County Fire Department.

To help deal with fast-moving fires, Orange County fire officials have deployed portable water tanks to help helicopters fill up faster – a strategy also used by Fresno County Fire.

“The Los Angeles County and Orange County fire departments have been using firehawks or Blackhawks as an advantage to their air force for some time because of their population density. They do not always have the opportunity to go to a lake,” the battalion leader said. Dan Urias with County Fresno Fire.

Last year, CAL FIRE’s Fresno unit added the Bell 212 helicopter, capable of holding 370 gallons of water, portable water tanks now available and capable of storing even more water to help extinguish flames faster.

RELATED: At least 20 homes were destroyed when the 199-acre Southern California Fire Department evacuated

“Every time we respond to an incident in a rural environment where there are no taps, we have plumbing that has the collapsible porter tank, 3,500 gallons,” Uriah explained.

Fresno County Fire port tanks are commonly used for wildlife engines, but can be refilled when needed.

In terms of prevalence and prevention, firefighters say there are two main factors.

“It’s the human factor – we need community involvement and preventive action to help mitigate these fires,” Uriah added.

“These embers, especially in homes, can be loud, hidden, and it can take days and hours for another fire to appear,” said Sergund.

Fire officials say that very often, fires start by accident and taking simple measures, such as mowing the lawn after 10 a.m. to avoid hitting rocks, could make a difference.

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