Area firefighters respond to Ventura fire |

Area firefighters respond to Ventura fire

Staff Reports

A handful of East Fork firefighters are part of a regional response to Southern California to help battle a 150-square-mile wildfire.

“This is a poor time of year, as many federal wildland agencies don’t have much staffing, so it is the local and state government agencies that must carry the load,” East Fork Deputy Chief Dave Fogerson said on Tuesday.

Fogerson said that the Lake Tahoe chiefs have sent three strike teams, which include six fire managers and 15 fire engines operated by around 60 firefighters.

A fourth strike team has been sought, according to North Tahoe Public Information Officer Beth Kenna, to fight the Thomas fire burning in Ventura County. The fire started Monday evening and has been driven by Santa Ana winds.

East Fork Battalion Chief Troy Valenzuela is leading a strike team including firefighters from Central Lyon, South Lake Tahoe, North Lake Tahoe, Carson City and Fallen Leaf.

East Fork Brush 10 staffed by Capt. Paul Azevedo, Engineer Kevin Repan and firefighter-paramedics Adam Wennhold and Aaron Leising left for Ventura County on Tuesday.

In addition to East Fork, Tahoe Douglas, Truckee, North Tahoe, Lake Valley, Truckee Meadows, Sparks, Amador and Mule Creek have sent firefighters.

Fogerson said the Nevada Division of Emergency Management is “looking for any and all fire engines to assist California due to the number of fires they have going on based upon a personal request from the California Office of Emergency Services director.”

As of Thursday morning, the Thomas fire has claimed 150 structures, and threatens another 15,000 structures, according to the InciWeb Incident Information System.

According to fire officials, the blaze is threatening the cities of Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, Casitas Springs and unincorporated areas of Ventura County and will continue to spread west toward Ojai and move southeast into the City of Ventura.