Delaware fire crew near end of two week assignment at California wildfire

A Delaware wildfire crew assigned to tackle a 27,698 acre blaze in California is near the end of its two-week mission. 

The crew, led by the Delaware Forest Service, was assigned to help extinguish the large wildfire known as the Fork Complex Fire, near Hayfork, Cali. in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. 

The Fork Complex is one of several large wildfires in Northern California that together cover more than 223,000 acres. Almost 2,400 personnel are battling the fire, which currently is 26 percent contained, according to DFS. 

The wildfires are so severe the National Interagency Fire Center increased its national preparedness level to 5 on Thursday, the maximum on the 5-point scale.

“A significant amount of initial and extended attack and large fire activity has occurred over the past several days as a result of lightning storms that have intensified local and geographic response,” said Aitor Bidaburu, chair of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, in a statement.  

“Given the continuing hot and dry weather and the increase in fire activity in the western U.S., the decision to move to Preparedness Level 5 depicts the complexity that fire managers are encountering to assure that adequate firefighting resources are available for protection of life, property and our nation’s natural resources.”

On Wednesday evening, DFS Assistant Forestry Administrator Kyle Hoyd, reported that on Tuesday crews held line during a burnout operation, which he said was successful.

“If all goes well today, it will be a win,” he reported.

Fire officials on the scene also report that Delaware’s team has “excellent crew morale,” according to DFS.

As of Thursday, there were 73 uncontained large fires burning nationwide, and 34 of those were located in Northern California, DFS reports.

As demand for fire crews and resources increase, Delaware state forester and veteran crew boss Michael Valenti of Dover will lead a crew from Maryland. DFS says the crew is expected to arrive Saturday and be assigned to fires in Montana in the Northern Rockies fire region.

Valenti also will be accompanied by his son Nathan, who will be on his first firefighting assignment.

DFS says its team could return home Sunday or Monday, depending on travel arrangements and flight times.



Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal