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Chico Fire Captain Recounts Efforts Fighting Carr Fire

Local fire departments across the state made up a big part of the more than 4,000 firefighters battling the Carr Fire, including 9 from the City of Chico.

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 4:02 AM
Updated: Aug 16, 2018 3:34 AM

***Reporter's note: In the photo in the video where firefighters appear to be opening a safe, they are helping out the people who lived there per the homeowner's request.

Chico, Calif.-- "I've been a firefighter for over 20 years and the fire behavior I saw that night was something I've never seen before," said Captain Ryan Fellers of the Chico Police Department.

On July 23rd, 2018, a firefighting team out of Butte County formed up and headed North.

One engine from the City of Chico, the City of Oroville, plus Cal Fire engines out of Gridley, Paradise and Durham.

None of them had any idea what was in store in the coming days.

"Very fast moving, large flame lengths and there wasn't a whole lot of things we could do," said Fellers.

As the Carr Fire blew through Whiskeytown and Old Shasta where Captain Ryan Fellers and the rest of the Chico Fire Department were stationed, they had to adapt. Change strategies.

At times, it felt like a losing battle, but they trudged on.

"That's what firefighters do best - we're prepared for whatever we're going to face, any scenario, any situation," said Fellers.

With strong overnight winds, the fire seemed to rage the hardest at time when air support was out of the question.

I asked Captain Fellers what the hardest part of it was - thinking he'd share about the physical challenges, the heat, the exhaustion.

But there was no self-pity. His focus seemed to be on everyone else.

"Seeing the devastation in a community like Redding, all those people displaced from their homes," said Fellers.

And of course, pushing forward as the three firefighters lost their lives.

"It's hard on morale, but I just want people to remember that those people made the ultimate sacrifice and put the safety of their community above their own," said Fellers.

With no time limit on so-called "fire-season" these days, I asked Fellers how they recuperate from such an undertaking. He made it seem simple:

"Come back, get some rest and get ready to do it again," said Fellers.

As of August 15th, two Chico city firefighters remain a part of the Carr Fire containment efforts.

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December began on a beautiful note for northern California with plentiful sunshine, seasonably cool lows and warmer than average highs. Much of wednesday will be similar to today, but clouds will stream into our sky late in the day.
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