BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Firefighters from the 9th Civil Engineer Squadron here are partnering with state and local fire departments to fight fires in Butte, Yuba, and Nevada counties.
The 9th CES sent a four-man team as a part of the initial response to work with local civil authorities to combat the fires on Oct. 9. The team has been assisting with battling the blazes throughout the week.
“We were dispatched early Monday morning (Oct. 9) and worked for 60 hours on the Cascade fire,” said Airman 1st Class Thomas Rush, 9th CES firefighter. “Then we came back to base camp and took 12 hours off before going back to work on the Lobo fire for 12 hours. After that we slept for a night and then worked another 24 hours on the Lobo fire.”
Despite the long hours and hazardous conditions the team looks for lessons learned.
Having only been at Beale a year, Rush believes this experience will serve him and his team in the future when it comes to combating wildfires.
“I have never seen fires like this,” he said. “There was fire all around us.”
Additionally, Beale also sent a team to support the Grass Valley Interagency Air Attack Base. The base serves as a hub for fire protection aircraft and is located approximately 35 miles from Beale.
“We have been supporting the aircraft that are going out and providing reconnaissance and dropping water and retardant on the fires,” said Airman 1st Class Alexander Herrera, 9th CES firefighter. “We are out here to make sure nothing goes wrong and respond if something does.”
According to CAL FIRE, there are 156 fire engines combatting four different fires in the counties close to Beale. The fires have burned approximately 17,000 acres and displaced hundreds of residents.
The overall support for the two teams’ actions has been positive.
“Everywhere we go people have been very appreciative,” said Rush. “Families have been thanking us, shaking our hands and waving to us.”
CAL FIRE also appreciates the support Beale’s fire department has provided during the last week.
“The support from the military has been great,” said Tim Butolph, CAL FIRE airtanker dispatcher. “We may have different missions, but in a time of need both departments come together and work together for the common good of the public.”