Utah firefighters battling 30,000 acres Elkhorn Fire burning in California


REDD BLUFF, California (ABC4 News) – Northern Utah has nearly three dozen firefighters in California battling wildfires to protect homes being threatened by the Elkhorn Fire burning in Red Bluff, California.

“It’s a little over 30,000 acres,” said Matthew McFarland, Unified Fire Authority Spokesman. “Right now, it’s pretty calm here. “We’ve been working this same section of cabins for three nights now.”

Fire investigators believe lighting is to blame. “We’ve been working when we can to control the fire’s behavior when it approaches properties,” said McFarland. “The fire is big enough and the resources are limited enough that we’re not going to get a stop to the fire right now, and that’s okay.”

Crews deployed this past weekend. On Wednesday, ABC4 checked in to see how they are doing.

“We’ve been on the night shift,” said McFarland. “We come out at night. We start our shift around seven in the evening. We get done by about 10 o’clock the next morning.”

Local firefighters are split into two teams. “Our team is paired up with heavy apparatus from Park City, and another one from Draper,” said McFarland. “So, it’s Unified Fire, Draper Fire Department, and Park City Fire Department.”

The second team is fighting flames on the same fire with resources from West Valley, Provo, and Lone Peak.

McFarland says while Utah has 34 firefighters in California, the departments they left behind are all fully staffed.

“When we look at if we can facilitate a response like this, there’s a lot of people here as well as back home that are working a lot of overtime to fill this. That’s all paid for by the state of California or federal grants with the EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact) deployment.”

McFarland adds that the experience crews are gaining in California will ultimately help the beehive state.

“The reason this is beneficial to the local citizens to the people who pay us to be local responders in their community is that we take all this experience that we gather here on a large scale incident, both the firefighting side of this as well as the organizational side of this, for what it takes to run a large scale incident we come home and offer that to our community.”

Crews are expected to be deployed for at least two weeks.

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