Four firefighters from local Station 74 traveled to the Reading fire at Mt. Lassen on August 10, 2012 to protect structures primarily for four days before they were transferred to the Ponderosa fire.
Engines from the City of Gridley, Chico, Paradise, El Medio in Oroville and Butte County were used at the Reading and Ponderosa Fires, both contained now.
Local firefighters Captain Sean Norman, Engineer Oscar Jerez, firefighters Nick Giampaoli and Joshpae White were gone most of August and started out protecting structures at the Reading fire. After four days they were moved to help suppress the Ponderosa Fire, which meant lighting fire ahead of the main fire to help put it out.
Officials thought the Parks Service could help manage the Ponderosa Fire but it blew out on them which is how the fire evolved.
An ember flew a half mile and started a new fire which the Butte County Strike Team was able to extinguish.
Local firefighters fought the fire in lava flow, something foreign to them. They had to fight the fire from the side of Mt. Lassen pulling hose through 1300 feet of boulders with embers starting four more fires.
Almost 8,000 feet of hose was used in extreme terrain where most of the firefighters fell and tore their outer gear along with scrapes and bruises.
It was critical to get this fire stopped, otherwise, it would have reached an estimated 10,000 acres.
Once the firefighters reached the Ponderosa Fire near Red Bluff, they were on very steep terrain in the Battle Creek and Shingletown area, working to put that fire out.
Luckily, the men only received some minor injuries. The strike team worked 21 days without a day off and we are currently only half way through the fire season.
“The goal is to keep a fire under 10 acres. We are successful most of the time,” Norman stated.