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Fire District 3 sends crew, engine to help in California

In response to a call for assistance, Clark County Fire District 3 on Friday afternoon sent an engine to respond to the fires ravaging Northern California.

The engine, with four firefighters, was dispatched after the state of California requested the assistance of 50 engines and crews from Washington, according to Fire District 3.

“It’s devastating,” Fire District 3 Assistant Chief Scott Sorenson said of the California fires. “We hope they are safe and can help out people who are involved in that area.”

Firefighters Joe Stiffler, Charlie Campbell and Rob Moon and firefighter/paramedic Des Gomez were sent to help. The team, which is traveling with four engines from Cowlitz County, could be gone for up to 18 days.

“This is an experienced crew,” Sorenson said in a phone interview. All four members have been with Fire District 3 ranging from 14 to 18 years, he said.

“They have all been on incidents like this, with the exception of Des,” he added.

Campbell traveled to California about 10 years ago, Sorenson said, to help fight fires in San Diego.

The team plans to drive straight to Napa, where they will be staging and likely assigned to a location, if they haven’t already received their assignment, Sorenson said.

“They will help control the situation,” he said. “It’s going to depend on the weather and the wind calming down.”

Sorenson said Fire District 3, which serves Battle Ground and Hockinson, was contacted by Washington’s Emergency Management Division about helping out. The agency’s crew members were chosen based largely on their availability. Their positions will be back-filled while they are gone.

All costs of their firefighting efforts, including equipment, wages and backfill costs, will be reimbursed through an intergovernmental agreement with California.


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