SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As the sky begins to clear for the first time in days, Cal Fire tankers are back in action, fighting dozens of fires in the state.
“Yesterday alone we dropped nearly 100,000 gallons of both water and an additional 100,000 gallons of fire retardant,” explained Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire Assistant Deputy Director.
The North Complex Fire, which includes the Bear Fire in Butte County, is seeing more containment as crews are able to fly over the fires again. Berlant said it had been days since air support was able to fly over northern fires.
“In the past 24 hours, they have been able to increase containment by six percent between yesterday morning and this morning. Definitely the air resources played a vital role,” he said.
The clearer skies do not bring all good news in the firefight. The clearing smoke presents a catch-22 for fire crews battling the flames.
“It’s a plus and a minus. Yes, we can’t see but usually, fire behavior is not as great. When we have better visibility, it’s usually better visibility because the heat of the fire has broken the smoke of the inversion layer which means the fire activity has significantly increased,” said Berlant.
Potential winds coming Thursday could present a problem for firefighters. Berlant explaining while the temperatures are decreasing, the gusty winds have the potential to create more fire activity.
“Our ground crews are working inch by inch, foot by foot, mile by mile and it takes days and accessing some of these areas, is extremely difficult. Aircraft can reach an area that is inaccessible within minutes and they can drop a significant amount of retardant that really helps us start building a line around the fire, so by the time the fire crews hike and make it into the area we are able to slow the fire and put a stop to it,” he said.
Cal Fire crews in the sky have dropped 4.7 million gallons of fire retardant and nearly 8 million gallons of water with recent fires throughout the entire state. The air support is critical support crews have been missing to help those fighting on the fire lines.
Fire season is not over yet. Cal Fire knows this is just the beginning and is urging residents to do their part to help prevent more fires.