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Manteca, Lathrop send firefighters to battle wildfires

As many as two dozen local firefighters have been deployed to Sonoma County to help battle the Kincade Fire – which has already scorched almost 75,000 acres and is only 15 percent contained. 

Currently both the Manteca Fire Department and the Lathrop Manteca Fire District have sent their OES Type 1 engines along with personnel to help battle the scorching blaze that may have been started when a PG&E high voltage transmission line malfunctioned near where the fire started shortly before the flames were reported. 

The stock price of the embattled utility company plunged to $3.80 on Monday as the fire continued to rage out of control – destroying more than 100 buildings, threatening even more and prompting the evacuation of more than 200,000 people since the fire first began. 

In addition to its OES engine, Lathrop has also sent two of its brush fire engines – including Brush 35, which was just added to the district’s list of apparatus – with seven personnel between them. In addition to the four riding on the Type 1 engine, the district has a total of 11 personnel that have been dispatched to the fire. 

The Manteca Fire Department is believed to have sent out just as many firefighters as part of the state’s mutual aid program to augment existing wildland firefighting efforts. 

And if weather reports are accurate, the crews will have their hands full for the next several days with additional winds expected throughout the region – making the fire much more unpredictable. With widespread PG&E outages over the weekend leaving millions of California residents in the dark, the extended wind forecast means that the power won’t go back on in some parts of the state that are fire prone – including sections of the foothills that have been dark since Saturday night. 

While his crews work to hold the line in one of the most fire-ravaged parts of the state, Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely has been deployed to Southern California to begin preposition planning as part of a Type 1 Incident Management Team – serving as a Division Group Supervisor for the elite unit comprised of members of both state and federal agencies.

The windstorm that helped the Kincade Fire grow to its current size also wreaked havoc in the Bay Area over the weekend when two separate fires – both of which may have been caused by PG&E lines in the area, according to the company’s self-reporting to regulators – damaged properties and prompted evacuations. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.