A contingent of almost a dozen firefighters and administrative personnel from the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District didn’t get a break this year for Labor Day.
They spent the three day weekend 280 miles away from home trying to battle a fire in Trinity County that has already destroyed dozens of homes and buildings and is threatening many more in a remote, rugged part of California that has a history of hard to contain wildfires due to steep terrain and unpredictable winds.
A team of 11 personnel including LMFD Fire Chief Gene Neely and Battalion Chief Larry Madoski arrived in Trinity County early Thursday morning after being dispatched by the California Office of Emergency Services following a declaration of emergency from Governor Jerry Brown – joining a growing number of firefighters from across California being sent to try and contain the fire before it destroys any more homes or grows to threaten the rural community of Weaverville.
Dubbed the Helena fire because of its location within the mountain hamlet of Helena, the fire has been burning both sides of Highway 299 right up to the pavement and has led to the California Highway Patrol closing the main access road between Redding and Eureka. Weaverville, which is home to more than 3,600 people, was threatened almost three years ago when a fire sparked along Highway 299 neared almost 650 homes and proved difficult for crews to contain because of the terrain and winds that shifted throughout the day and made the spread of the fire unpredictable. The old logging town, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was ultimately saved.
The fire in Helena spread so rapidly that Northern California news outlets are reporting that a 911 call was received from a family in the area that was trapped inside of a house with fire completely surrounding it. Helena is located on the edge of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
The road closure posted on Thursday, Aug. 31 extended from just east of Helena to the Oregon Mountain Summit – perched at almost 2,800 feet.
The Lathrop-Manteca Fire District, which maintains a Cal-OES engine for quick response to incidents such as this, has already been dispatched multiple times this fire season to points throughout California.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.