PAUL PAYNE, The Press Democrat, July 8, 2008
An army of firefighters in Mendocino County today continued their almost 3-week-old battle and braced for expected extreme temperatures.
“Our biggest concern now is the heat,” said Frank Kemper, a Cal Fire spokesman.
Temperatures in the Ukiah Valley are projected to reach 113 degrees, part of a heat wave sweeping through much of California today.
Many of the 1,686 firefighters spread around Mendocino County are from out of state, including Alaska, and aren’t used to working in this kind of heat, Kemper said.
Firefighters starting out the day shift have been warned to move more slowly and be aware of the double possibilities of dehydration and heat exhaustion — always a problem, but more so on days like this.
“It’s like when you cut the grass on a hot day. You don’t push the mower that fast,” said Steve Mairo, a Cal Fire spokesman.
As of this morning, the county’s series of fires were 60% contained. Of the original 127 fires, 39 remained active.
The county has lost 49,880 acres and two buildings. An Anderson Valley firefighter died from a possible heart attack after becoming short of breath while laying water hoses on a fire.
So far the cost of the huge efforts has cost an estimated $24.5 million.
Some of the larger ongoing fires include Red Mountain, near Leggett. That has burned 7,614 acres as of Tuesday morning.
The Sugarloaf fire, west of Boonville, is up to 5,416 acres.
And the series of Orr fires, near Orr Springs Road, west of Ukiah, are up to 3,715 acres.