A meeting Thursday at the Cal Fire Air Attack Base was called in reaction to the Ponderosa fire, but focused on all the wildfires currently burning in Northern California. It specifically touched on how military forces are teaming up with Cal Fire, The Forest Service, and Cal-EMA, to fight the flames.
This comes after Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency yesterday in Shasta, Tehama, and Plumas counties. Also after, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta appointed a dual status commander. That means California National Guard Troops and active military troops, who are fighting the fire, will all be under the command of one National Guard officer.
“Should we integrate any other federal resources into the fight, to fight these fires here in California, I will have the ability, as the dual status commander to command and control both the federal assets that are brought in as well as the state assets,” said Col. Robert Spano of the California National Guard.
“Given our current high level of fire activity here in Northern California, working together in such a coordinated manner is really critical for all our mutual success,” said Chief Jean Wade-Evans of the U.S. Forest Service.
To this point, troops assisting in the fire-fighting effort are mainly doing it from the air, with water and tanker drops. But as the fire season progresses, there are talks of training troops to work as ground crews. That would alleviate some of the stress on Cal Fire and Forest Service crews. With fire season ramping up, and only getting worse, the extra help will be needed.