Fires

Extreme heat challenges firefighters in Sacramento region

Video: Sacramento grass fire spreads to home as firefighters battle heat

Sacramento Fire worked a grass fire Wednesday that quickly spread to a home and threatened up to a half dozen other houses in north Sacramento. In addition, firefighters battled the blaze in 105-plus temperatures. One firefighter was taken to a lo
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Sacramento Fire worked a grass fire Wednesday that quickly spread to a home and threatened up to a half dozen other houses in north Sacramento. In addition, firefighters battled the blaze in 105-plus temperatures. One firefighter was taken to a lo

Record high temperatures in the Sacramento region Wednesday made the job harder for crews fighting fires all over the region.

The temperature in the Sacramento region hit a record 107 degrees on Wednesday, challenging crews fighting fires throughout the region.

Over the past two days, four firefighters from Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and the Sacramento Fire Department were taken to hospitals with heat exhaustion after battling a series of grass and building fires, said Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Roberto Padilla.

Temperatures between 100 and 110 degrees are expected through Thursday , according to the National Weather Service. The previous record for July 29 was 106 in 1996.

In Sacramento and throughout the region, fire crews continued to battle blazes large and small. The biggest fire burning now is the Wragg fire outside Winters, where 1,426 personnel are working to contain the flames, which had consumed 7,100 acres as of Wednesday morning in Napa, Solano and Yolo counties, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Wragg fire was listed as 80 percent contained.

High temperatures such as those that occurred Wednesday can not only exhaust firefighters, but also cause fire to behave in extreme, erratic ways, said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox.

The fire flared up Tuesday afternoon, causing authorities to reinstate evacuations for 136 homes along Mix Canyon Road, Sky Ranch Road, Wild Horse Canyon Road, and Blue Ridge Road in Solano County.

Richard Gold, a fire engineer for the U.S. Forest Service, said it’s important for firefighters to start the season in good physical condition. On Wednesday, Gold was thinning brush along Mix Canyon Road with his crew. A plume of smoke from the Wragg fire was visible in the distance.

“If we’re not physically prepared by the time we get to the site of the incident, it makes it much more difficult to do our jobs in conditions over 100 degrees,” Gold said.

The key is staying conscious of safety and hydration, while maintaining mental focus on the task at hand, Cox said. Cal Fire and the Forest Service encourage their workers to take hydration breaks when they feel effects of the heat.

Federally employed firefighters, like Gold and his crew, work 16-hour shifts at minimum. Their state-employed counterparts are often on the ground for up to 24 hours at a time.

Brenna Lyles: 916-321-1083, @brennmlyles

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