There are 13 firefighters from the City of Manteca and Lathrop Manteca fire departments battling the massive Big Sur blaze that has blackened 40,000 acres so far along the Pacific Coast south of Carmel.
Manteca has one Type 1 engine with four firefighters assigned to structure protection and Lathrop has two engines — one designed to protect structures and the other smaller unit used to make its way up the smaller back roads of the mountainous area.
Lathrop Fire Chief Gene Neeley arrived in Big Sur July 27 and Battalion Chief Larry Madoski arrived four days earlier on July 23. Madoski has been named a site team leader and Chief Neeley is serving as a Division Group Supervisor.
Manteca city firefighters are on night duty now for structure protection and have been moved to a new base camp during the day at Camp Rancho Canada Golf Course near Carmel. The Lathrop crew is currently assigned to protecting some 120 structures in the path of the fire, Neeley said.
There are five departments working the fire from San Joaquin County: Lodi, Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy and Woodbridge. Overall there are 5,000 firefighters from throughout California on the Big Sur fire lines.
Manteca Fire crews arrived at the fire nine days ago and face a 14-day limit on the fire line. The larger engines provided by the Office of Emergency Services (OES) have a 14-day limit fighting the fire and the smaller engine is changed out every seven days, according to fire authorities.
A problem exists with the outbreak of a new fire near Fresno that is tapping the state’s resources to combat both fires. The Big Sur Blaze is not expected to be under control until the end of August. Smoke from that fire has covered Bay Area communities and the Central Valley as well where people with breathing problems have been urged to remain inside their homes.
San Joaquin County firefighters have traditionally responded to calls for mutual-aid during the summer months when fires erupt throughout the state.