Chico Fire Department & other local resources battling in Southern California

"The winds down there are 70-80 miles per hour, there's just not a whole lot you can do with those types of winds," said Division Chief Chris Zinko, who's running the Chico Fire Department for the time being.

Posted: Dec. 6, 2017 3:35 PM
Updated: Dec. 6, 2017 5:25 PM

"I've been driving around here in one part of Ventura City, hit very hard, lots of apartment complexes burnt to the ground, multiple, multiple homes. They're everywhere," said Chico Fire Department Division Chief John Kelso.

Scroll for more content...

When Cal Fire Ventura County put out the call for help, firefighters across the state didn't waste any time.

The Chico Fire Department immediately sent one engine along with strike team leaders, safety officers, and Division Chief John Kelso.

"I'm looking at some plastic playgrounds that look like they're frozen in place, it looks like the plastic was stretched out the way the wind blows and frozen in place," said Kelso.

48 hours after it began, as of Wednesday the Thomas Fire has burned at least 65,000 acres North and East of Highway 150 and through the City of Ventura, destroying 150 structures and still threatening 12,000.

"The challenges we have today is, this morning, before the Santa Ana's come up, is to go back and catch all those fires before they start to spring back up," said Kelso.

"The winds down there are 70-80 miles per hour, there's just not a whole lot you can do with those types of winds," said Division Chief Chris Zinko, who's running the Chico Fire Department for the time being.

Despite help from across the state, resources are stretched thin.

"Normally with a structure fire you get 4-5 engines and a truck, but a lot of these are being handled by one engine, 3 people" said Kelso.

So Wednesday we still have about 60% of our fire staff here in Chico, but that could all change if the fires get worse.

"They're hurting pretty bad, so we'll probably have to send another engine down, which means we'll have to force people back on for the holidays," said Zinco.

Despite large-scale evacuation orders, the Chief says it's been tough keeping the masses of people from trying to return home - but it's just too dangerous.

"There's a lot of utilities unsecured, we have flowing gas everywhere, and power lines down everywhere, so we're trying to make sure those two things don't meet, causing more fire and explosions," said Kelso. "This happened in Santa Rosa, it's happening here, so it can happen absolutely anywhere," said Kelso.

Article Comments

Community Events