Keizer firefighters assist in a historic Cali wildfire fight

In addition to a four-person crew, Keizer Fire District dispatched its brush truck California to help contain the LNU Lightning Complex fire (Submitted).

Wildfires are known to wreak havoc over certain areas of California during the summer months, which is why Keizer Fire District (KFD) is always prepared to provide assistance. 

On Wednesday, Aug. 19 KFD sent four firefighters down to assist with the LNU Lighting Complex fires near Napa Valley, CA. Three of the KFD firefighters were operating a brush truck and one of them was an assistant strike team leader working as a part of a Marion County task force.

According to Brian Butler, the division chief of operations with KFD, the district has 18 people on their deployment list to send resources down to California when needed. 

“If they need help, we tend to get there pretty quickly,” Butler said. “Once we get the call in Keizer, we can be deployed in a couple of hours.”

The crew in California is protecting homes and local structures, as well as patrolling for hot spots, in 24-hour shifts every other day.

“The fires are so bad over there. It is 24 hours of stress for those guys,” Butler said. 

The LNU fire began on the morning of Aug. 17 due to lighting strikes in Napa and Sonoma counties. 

As of Tuesday, Sept. 1, the fire had taken over more than 375,000 acres of land, destroying 1,288 structures and causing damage to 202 others. More than 3,000 structures are being threatened due to the fire. It is the third largest wildfire documented in California history. 

The fire has forced thousands of evacuations and has taken the lives of five people. 

Fortunately, the fire is 69% contained, as of Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and some counties have began the repopulating process.

Despite having four of their employees in Napa Valley, the wildfires have had no effect on staffing or services at KFD, as the district is reimbursed for the deployed firefighters and overtime hours.

The crew returned to Keizer on Tuesday evening

Just days before sending staff members down south, KFD sent three firefighters to assist with the Columbia River Gorge’s Moiser Creek fire. Although the fire burned nearly 1,000 acres and destroyed eight homes, there was no reported injuries or loss of life and the fire was contained in less than a week. 

“They were able to help get that under control pretty quickly,” Butler said.