Bay Area firefighters help battle wildfire near Yosemite

The rapidly growing Oak Fire near Yosemite has jumped to 9,500 acres.

Cal Fire has put out the call for help to battle a fire that, so far, has zero containment. Some of the requested help is coming from the Bay Area.

In the world of emergency response, it’s called mutual aid. When another jurisdiction is in need, other departments race in to help. That’s exactly what’s happening with the fast-moving Oak fire.

By Saturday afternoon, the fire in Mariposa County, southwest of Yosemite Valley, had already destroyed ten structures and damaged five more. And those are early assessments.

"The firefighters have been seeing extreme fire behavior, you know the fire is spotting two miles ahead of itself," said Natasha Fouts with Cal Fire. 

Support to battle the blaze has already arrived, some of it coming from fire departments in the East Bay in emergency services Region 2, which stretches from the coastline of Oregon down to Monterey.  They are going to help out in Region 5.

"Alameda County, Hayward, Oakland, and Fremont all put together companies to send to the fire in Mariposa," said Kent Carlin, Battalion Chief with Alameda County Fire.

By Saturday evening, you could add firefighters from Sonoma County to that list.

Carlin said 22 East Bay firefighters left early Saturday morning under the system called mutual aid. Both Oakland and Fremont Fire Departments tweeted photos of their four-wheel-drive Type 3 engines they’ve dispatched to the fire line.

"And I just received information that they are already actively working.  They drove through the night and got there and they are doing structure defense," said Carlin.

Carlin says those Bay Area firefighters sent to battle the flames have the expectation of being gone for up to 21 days and are joining others from around the state. At the current rate of burn, it’s anticipated there could be additional calls for help battling what is now considered the top priority fire in the state.

"It’s so vital, you know.  We couldn’t fight these forest fires without the help from city departments, other Cal Fire areas in the state," said Fouts.

"When we had the 2020 lightning complex’s here and the SCU fire we had about 4,000 mutual aid folks from all over the state and all over the country came to help us," said Carlin.

Firefighters are hitting the flames from both the air and ground, and have a containment date set for July 30th, if all goes as planned.