Gone in 30 seconds: Fire crews lose rigs, gear in flames. Volunteers give them bit of hope

Fire crews from across the state are battling a complex of lightning-caused fires in the Six Rivers National Forest.One of those crews came from El Dorado County and has paid a big price.In a matter of seconds on Saturday, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians tribal fire crew lost every bit of gear and the fire rigs they brought with them to the fire lines.”What was damaged was a complete and total loss of both vehicles,” the crew’s fire chief, Dave Whitt, said. “One vehicle, literally, there is nothing left.”Whitt said an investigation into the incident is underway, but right now, it appears the fire crew parked in what would be considered a safe location.The chief, however, explained to KCRA 3 how conditions shifted and the fire took an erratic turn — running up a hillside to the fire vehicles.”Fire from down below in the canyon — it’s very, very steep. Very, very rugged country in the Six Rivers area — and they had a little bit of flare up,” Whitt said. “It went from ground fire to ladders, to torch, to crown in less than 30 seconds.”Tents, tools, sleeping bags, personal items, food and their mode of transportation. Gone.Fast-moving flames consumed everything the crew brought from El Dorado County, all the way up to the far northwest corner of California.Not quite knowing what to do, someone had an idea.”One of the guys at the forest there said, ‘Hey, let’s talk to the guys at the Red Cross. They got an evacuation center. See if they have room,'” Whitt said. “And sure enough, they had room.”Red Cross volunteers at a shelter in Willow Creek were ready to lend a hand.”These firefighters were evacuees in that moment,” said Stephen Walsh, communications director for American Red Cross California Gold Country Region. “We always say, everyone is welcome at a Red Cross shelter, and clearly, that extends to firefighters.”According to Walsh, Red Cross volunteers helped the helpers in their moment of need.”The volunteers on the ground were immensely proud of being able to give these 19 firefighters a bit of rest and something to eat, so that they could continue to do what they’re doing, which is, helping the public to safety,” Walsh said.The fire crew was grateful for the assistance.”It’s kind of unusual because the firefighters usually call the Red Cross to help the citizens,” Whitt said. “We don’t usually become the receiving end of their graciousness.”The crew was also thankful that only the replaceable stuff was lost.”We had almost a million dollars worth of fire apparatus lost,” Whitt said. “But nobody’s hurt. Everybody’s safe.”As of Monday night’s incident report, fire managers said the Six Rivers Lightning Complex fire has burned 6,775 acres.There’s no containment yet on the complex of eight fires that’s been burning since Friday.

Fire crews from across the state are battling a complex of lightning-caused fires in the Six Rivers National Forest.

One of those crews came from El Dorado County and has paid a big price.

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In a matter of seconds on Saturday, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians tribal fire crew lost every bit of gear and the fire rigs they brought with them to the fire lines.

“What was damaged was a complete and total loss of both vehicles,” the crew’s fire chief, Dave Whitt, said. “One vehicle, literally, there is nothing left.”

Whitt said an investigation into the incident is underway, but right now, it appears the fire crew parked in what would be considered a safe location.

The chief, however, explained to KCRA 3 how conditions shifted and the fire took an erratic turn — running up a hillside to the fire vehicles.

“Fire from down below in the canyon — it’s very, very steep. Very, very rugged country in the Six Rivers area — and they had a little bit of flare up,” Whitt said. “It went from ground fire to ladders, to torch, to crown in less than 30 seconds.”

Tents, tools, sleeping bags, personal items, food and their mode of transportation. Gone.

Fast-moving flames consumed everything the crew brought from El Dorado County, all the way up to the far northwest corner of California.

Not quite knowing what to do, someone had an idea.

“One of the guys at the forest there said, ‘Hey, let’s talk to the guys at the Red Cross. They got an evacuation center. See if they have room,'” Whitt said. “And sure enough, they had room.”

Red Cross volunteers at a shelter in Willow Creek were ready to lend a hand.

“These firefighters were evacuees in that moment,” said Stephen Walsh, communications director for American Red Cross California Gold Country Region. “We always say, everyone is welcome at a Red Cross shelter, and clearly, that extends to firefighters.”

According to Walsh, Red Cross volunteers helped the helpers in their moment of need.

“The volunteers on the ground were immensely proud of being able to give these 19 firefighters a bit of rest and something to eat, so that they could continue to do what they’re doing, which is, helping the public to safety,” Walsh said.

The fire crew was grateful for the assistance.

“It’s kind of unusual because the firefighters usually call the Red Cross to help the citizens,” Whitt said. “We don’t usually become the receiving end of their graciousness.”

The crew was also thankful that only the replaceable stuff was lost.

“We had almost a million dollars worth of fire apparatus lost,” Whitt said. “But nobody’s hurt. Everybody’s safe.”

As of Monday night’s incident report, fire managers said the Six Rivers Lightning Complex fire has burned 6,775 acres.

There’s no containment yet on the complex of eight fires that’s been burning since Friday.

Contributed by local news sources

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