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Massive Fires Cause Local Resources To Be Stretched Thin

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – More than 30 wildfires are burning across California creating unhealthy conditions across the state and putting a strain on resources.

Local fire crews are helping fight many of the large-scale fires leaving resources at home stretched thin.

And with natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey, also depleting resources, many agencies like Sacramento Fire say they're maxed out.

Firefighters are doing everything they can to make sure response times are not affected, and their stations aren't shut down.

Massive fires like the Ponderosa Fire in Butte County that's scorched more than 4,000 acres and the La Tuna Fire in Southern California that has grown to nearly 6,000 acres, are burning continuously and for long periods of time and are requiring a lot of man power.

"We're definitely stretched thin, we're feeling the impact of having that many people gone from the fire district," said Captain Brian Gonsalves with Sacramento Metro Fire.

As Sac Metro Fire crews respond to local fire calls like the one off Gerber Road and Bradshaw this Labor day, they say they are trying to stay afloat.

"Between Hurricane Harvey and the wildfires, we have approximately 60 personnel out working these incidents. That causes a large draw down of available personnel here working these local fire stations," said Gonsalves with Sac Metro Fire Department.

A number of local personnel from the Sacramento region are deployed, helping battle the large-scale fires across the state; and are assisting with search and rescue efforts in Houston.

"We are backfilling those positions with mandatory staffing and voluntary overtime staffing," said firefighter Eric Chase with the Sacramento Fire Department.

Chase says personnel are working overtime and having to cancel vacations to meet state and federal demands while also maintaining the safety of our local communities.

"As far as response times go, as long as we're not browning out trucks, they're staying the same," said Chase.

"We're still making every effort to keep our fire stations open and make sure all our units are available to respond," said Gonsalves.

As fire agencies work to keep their stations open, there is confidence that if a major incident should occur close to home, they'd be able to manage.

"If we were to have a big incident here in Sacramento, we'll try to mitigate that here with resources we have. If it gets past that, we'll have help from other agencies just like we're helping Houston right now," said Chase.

As of now, no stations have been forced to close due to staffing issues.

The hope is with cooler temperatures moving in, those on the front lines can make better progress on these fires across the state.

More from Shirin Rajaee
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