Utah fire crews may not be home for Christmas as they battle California wildfires

Photo courtesy: Twitter/Cal Fire/Santa Barbara County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 15, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah’s firefighters battling the Thomas Fire in California would love to be home for Christmas, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

Taylor Sandstrom, a firefighter/paramedic with Unified Fire Authority, told Gephardt Daily there is no exact date for the crews to return to Utah, but officials have been hoping the weekend of Dec. 23 and 24 may be a possibility.

“It all depends on winds and weather conditions,” Sandstrom said. “The firefighters are making good progress. They’re working 24-hour shifts — off for 12 hours, then back on for 24 hours.”

The firefighters from Utah are “all in good shape,” Sandstrom said.

Strong winds have been driving the wildfires from one parched area to another across Southern California, but the many hundreds of firefighters on scene are gradually gaining on what has become “California’s fourth-largest fire since the state began keeping formal records in 1932,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

A California firefighter, fire apparatus engineer Corey Iverson, 32, based out of the Cal Fire San Diego Unit, died Thursday “while working a colossal wildfire burning in coastal mountains northwest of Los Angeles,” UFA tweeted, calling the tragedy “heartbreaking.”

On Tuesday, the public information officer for Cal Fire tweeted that the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties had consumed 236,000 acres and was 25 percent contained.

On Wednesday, Cal Fire tweeted that more than 8,000 firefighters and nearly 1,000 engines were battling the blaze, which was then at 238,500 acres, but was 30 percent contained.

KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles, reported the wildfire “had smothered 252,500 acres of the California coast as of Friday morning, or about 394 square miles, the state fire agency reported. It has been 35 percent contained since Thursday night.”

According to KTLA: “Officials are anticipating that the massive Thomas Fire burning in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties won’t reach full containment until Jan. 7 — more than a month after it was sparked, Cal Fire said Friday.”


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