Progress of California Wild Fires

Fresno, CA The Chowchilla Fairgrounds has become a major hub moving firefighters in and around the state.

A game of Ladder Ball is a welcome break for firefighters from Oregon. They just returned from battling wildfires which came dangerously close to burning the town of Big Sur. For JB Hedges, it was unfamiliar terrain. Hedges said, "It was my first time in California on the coast, so there were a lot of conditions going on. We had to be aware of the winds and fuel and terrain. It's very different than what we normally fight in."

Hedges and his crew are waiting at the Chowchilla Fairgrounds for their next assignment. A small tent city provides all their needs as their commanders decide where they'll go. But one crew from Colorado told us they've been waiting three days. Incident Commander Phil Veneris says that's part of the strategy. Veneris said, "The fires we have now are well staffed but this my ready reserve for the state when the new fire takes like San Mateo/ Santa Cruz, I'm able to mobilize and send 15 engines right now."

1500 firefighters can be accommodated at the fair grounds at the cost of $100,000 per day. With what Stephen Vitek from Idaho experienced on the front lines wild fires could be raging for a while. Vitek said, "Anything can happen at any time. It just makes it crazy. It's hot and dry."

The commander said by Friday several hundred more firefighters could be stationed at Chowchilla. In fact, he doesn't even know when the base will be closed because of the intense wild fire season.

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