Ninety-five percent of Arizona’s state firefighters are currently battling major wildfires in California. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
Nearly 300 firefighters with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management are grappling with hot and dry conditions in one of the most extreme fire seasons in California state history. Southern Arizona Engine Crew 362 is fighting the Donnell Fire on the Stanislaus National Forest east of Sacramento. It’s the third fire they’ve been assigned to in nine days.
"Not only do we have to have our head on a swivel for fire, we also have to be very cautious about possible trees that are going to fall, because they fall, they kill, and that’s what’s been killing a lot of firefighters," says Jeff Harrison, a firefighter with the crew.
Nine people have died in recent California wildfires, including four firefighters. Nearly 600,000 acres have burned triggering tens of thousands of evacuations.
It’s common for states to share firefighting resources during critical fire events. Arizona’s monsoon has produced significant moisture allowing crews to help out in California and other western states.