In an effort to cut down on travel time and reduce firefighters exposure to traveling long distances on limited roads, two fire base camps have been set up in Colusa County to combat the Mendocino Complex Fire, in addition to the first camp that was initially set up in Ukiah.
In Colusa, about 1,000 firefighters – including strike team members, state and federal firefighting personnel, and state prison inmates – will call the Colusa County Fairgrounds their home, according to Cal Fire Public Information Officer Christian Linneman, essentially bringing everything they need to live – mobile kitchen units, internet service, bathrooms, sleeping and rest quarters, and more – with them.
Colusa County Fair CEO Laura Ford was notified that the fair grounds would be activated as a base camp for Cal Fire and other firefighters on Thursday night. By 9 AM on Friday, the camp was already being set up.
“It’s a mini-city here,” Ford said. “You name it, they brought it in.”
Earlier this week, there was some confusion as to whether the fairgrounds would also serve as an evacuation shelter for those displaced by the Mendocino Complex fire. It will not, Ford said, as the state wouldn’t allow it.
“It’s not something we can intermingle,” Ford said.
A number of Colusa County residents have expressed an eagerness to help out at the fairgrounds – whether as an evacuation center or a fire camp – with some offering to make donations, and others offering to cook meals. While Linneman said that firefighters at the camp were grateful for the sentiment, donations would be better served at evacuation shelters, and firefighters are already well fed by the food available on-site.
“We have kitchen units set up – those guys can feed a lot of people,” Linneman said. “We love that people want to make donations – it’s greatly appreciated – but just take them over to the shelter. They’re better served over there.”
At the Stonyford Community Meeting on Friday, Dan George, operations section chief for NorCal Interagency Team II – which is in unified command with Cal Fire for the Mendocino Complex – said that there would also be a camp set up in Stonyford. Portables and other resources were already on their way up the hill that day. NorCal Interagency Team II gave a video update from their Stonyford camp on Monday.