Firefighters from Wise County ship out to California wildfires

By Austin Jackson | Published
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Three firefighters from Wise County have answered the call to help battle the massive wildfires which have already claimed 50 lives in California and left thousands homeless.

Decatur resident Brandon Woodward will be serving as a strike team leader. Bridgeport resident Michael McComis will serve as an engine boss and Paradise resident Van Wakefield will serve as an FF1 (firefighter one) in the massive containment effort.

The firefighters began staging this afternoon and are engaged in containing the Woosley fire. As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Woolsey fire is 52 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

It is expected that it will take two weeks at the minimum to contain the fires across California, and Woodward, McComis and Wakefield will commit at least 14 days to the effort.

They join more than 5,600 personnel who are fighting the fires, which have destroyed more than 7,600 homes and 260 commercial buildings. The Woolsey fire alone has burned over 98,000 acres and destroyed at least 483 structures and damaged 86 others, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Wise County Emergency Management Coordinator Cody Powell is providing updates on the local firefighters to the Messenger. This story will be updated as the containment effort continues.

8 p.m. Tuesday

They have made it to California but not their hotel. They are still several miles out. They will be bedding down for the night East of LA. They have been assigned to the Woolsey Fire.

Their assignment is still unknown. They are scheduled to report in tomorrow morning, receive their assignment and will go straight to work.

12:06 p.m. Wednesday

They made it to base camp around 9 a.m. this morning.

4:47 p.m. Wednesday 

They are checked in at the Woolsey fire and finally made it to staging.

9:38 p.m. Thursday

One of the strike teams is patrolling divisions on seek and extinguish duty, putting out hotspots. All is well. We hope to hear from the other crews tomorrow.

8:19 p.m. Saturday

Vann had to return home for a family emergency. I’ve heard from Woodward and McComis in the last 2 days and they are doing well. Both have expressed how much they feel their teams have helped while out there.

7:16 p.m. Sunday

All crews are still assigned to the Woosley Fire but it appears this may be there last shift. They will find out tomorrow if they will be reassigned to the Camp Fire or demobilized and sent home.


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