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Local firefighters head to Kincade fire

Firefighters from five Rogue Valley fire agencies are aiding in Northern California’s fight against the Kincade fire, a blaze that, as of Monday, had ballooned to 66,231 acres, destroyed nearly 100 structures, and forced numerous evacuations.

The Rogue Valley Strike Team dispatched firefighters from Medford Fire-Rescue, Jackson County Fire District No. 3, Jackson County Fire District No. 5, Ashland Fire & Rescue, and the Rogue River Fire District, according to Rudy Owens, public information officer for the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office.

The strike team is one of 14 from Oregon that arrived Sunday in California. They will be stationed in the area for about two weeks, Owens said.

Medford Fire-Rescue sent five firefighters, with one acting as strike team leader, Medford Fire-Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Greg Kleinberg said. The other Rogue Valley agencies each sent four people.

The Rogue Valley Strike Team joins eight others that have been assigned to the fire. Six strike teams were also dispatched to fight the Burris fire, a Mendocino County blaze that had grown to 250 acres by Sunday. There were 271 firefighters from Jackson, Douglas, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Clackamas, Washington, Marion, Multnomah, Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Polk and Yamhill counties, the state fire marshal reported.

“It’s good that we can help each other out,” Kleinberg said. “There are a lot of organizations up in Oregon that have resources that can help out. In California, especially, their fire season sometimes is year-round with the Santa Ana winds and other winds that go on down there, and the dry conditions.”

There are 4,150 personnel assigned to the Kincade fire, with 10 helicopters, 444 engines, 53 dozers and 30 water tenders, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection website. On Monday, the Kincaid fire was 5% contained and was threatening nearly 80,000 homes, according to Cal Fire.

This is the third straight year Oregon has sent teams to the state. Fifteen teams gave aid in November and December of 2017 to help crews fight the Thomas fire near Ventura.

The state fire marshal sent three strike teams to help fight the Mendocino Complex in July 2018, and sent 15 more to help fight the Camp fire in November 2018. In that firefight, the 20-firefighter Rogue Valley team was responsible for structural protection and “pre-positioning,” or predicting wind shifts and using that information to better position resources on the front lines.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.

Flames from the Kincade Fire consume Soda Rock Winery on Sunday, Oct 27, 2019, in Healdsburg, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Members of the Rogue Valley Strike Team meet before heading to California to fight the Kincade fire. (Photo by Jackson County Fire District No. 5)