San Francisco

Bay Area Firefighters Must Battle Both Fatigue and Flames

It’s been a busy last few days for South Bay and San Francisco firefighters, dealing with not only local conditions but raging wildfires in neighboring communities that desperately require help.

Unfortunately, those firefighters have no reason to believe their busy days will let up any time soon. 

Cal Fire says the Monterey County fire expanded more than 2,000 acres overnight, up to about 75,000 acres since July 22nd. More than 4,000 firefighters are there, working to squash flames that has destroyed homes, killed wildlife and turned flourishing businesses into piles of ash.

But the new Clayton fire has also required resources, sending firefighters on a pseudo-relay to provide aid and resources.

Santa Clara County and San Francisco fire departments have crews in both places, working tirelessly against the flames. Strike teams and dozens of firefighters have been sent in to help out. 

Battalion Chief Jason Falarski just returned from 2 weeks battling the Soberanes Fire as part of a local strike team.

“It’s such a large, complex operation…so every day was different,” he said. “It’s both mentally and physically (challenging) because you’re working long hours. We’re working 24-hour plus shifts.”

San Jose fire crews also battled four separate vegetation fires Friday, including one near Coyote Road, all of which were fortunately knocked down before damaging homes. 

“Those crews have been out 13 to 14 days,” said Capt. Christopher Salcido of the San Jose Fire Department. “They’re not with their families, they’re not there, you know? And they’re going to potentially go out to other fires.” 

One homeowner said he was grateful firefighters stopped the flames from spreading, but worries about crews getting too spread out.

“Suddenly, if something happened in our area, we don’t know how many firefighters can come and help.”

But, as the neighboring fires have demonstrated, the value of mutual aid cannot be understated, and it’ll be the norm for quite some time.

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