Creek Fire: Marines, sailors arrive to assist with fire fight

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- 250 strong.

These United States marines and sailors are about to trade their hats for helmets as they fight the destructive Creek Fire.

"I am incredibly grateful that you are here because I know what you are all capable of, so thank you very much for answering the call," said Dean Gould, Sierra National Forest Supervisor.

These reinforcements from the 7th Engineer Support Battalion mean relief for thousands of firefighters on the frontlines.

"These fires are moving extremely fast and they are extremely, extremely dangerous," Marty Adell with Great Basin Team 1.

For Master Sergeant Juan Guillen, this assignment means so much more. The Fresno native used to visit Shaver Lake often as a child.

His family would also camp out in the Fresno County Mountains.

"It just gives us more motivation and more drive to really do our best with all the training that these professionals are providing to these marines and sailors," he said.

That training is being done by military veterans with the Bureau of Land Management's Devil's Canyon Hand Crew. They're serving as teachers and supervisors.

"We will just drive to wherever we are going. Hike out two, three or four miles, do our work, come back, hike out, sleep and repeat for 14 days," said wildland firefighter and military veteran Isaac Tzintzun.

240 Marines will be assigned to suppression efforts. This can range from putting out hot spots to creating defensive fire lines

Ten sailors, including Emily Behr, will operate as medical support.

"If someone gets injured or hurt, whatever the case may be, I am there to help them to make sure they are doing okay," she said.

For at least the next month, their base camp will be here at Minarets High School.

The road ahead is long and grueling, but these service members are ready to meet this challenge head-on.

"We are prepared to stay out here as long as we need," said Guillen.

Service members still need to undergo two more days of training before they go out onto the frontlines this Tuesday.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.