North Coast firefighters battle blazes around California

A flare-up in local fire activity earlier this week was dying down on Friday, but firefighters around the North Coast were mobilized nonetheless — many of them fighting blazing wildland fires in other regions.

More than a dozen fire area agencies have contributed resources to a battle against raging fires around the state brought on by exceptionally hot, dry, windy conditions.

Most are assigned to two of the state's six major fires: the 6,400 Panther Fire in rugged, rural terrain outside Chico and the 10,000-acre Springs Fire in the Ventura County community of Camarillo, near Oxnard, fire officials said.

They include a strike team of local fire agencies that was sent early Thursday to a 20-acre blaze north of Napa that has since been contained.

After a few hours sleep in Vacaville, that group left early Friday for the Tehama County fire in the Deer Creek Drainage off Highway 132 north of Butte Meadow, fire officials said.

Only 10 percent contained on Friday morning, the Panther Fire was occupying the time of nearly 1,100 firefighters, Cal Fire said, including Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini, who was working incident command.

Three- and four-person engine crews from Forestville, Gold Ridge, Santa Rosa, Rancho Adobe and Windsor fire departments formed the strike team sent first to Napa and then to Tehama County, under the leadership of Rancho Adobe Battalion Chief Steve Davidson, assisted by Petaluma Battalion Chief Jeff Holden, officials said.

Santa Rosa Fire Capt. Keith Flood also is working the Panther Fire as a field observor specializing in mapping, Battalion Chief Mark Basque said.

A Mendocino County strike team consisting of engine crews from the Elk, Little Lake, Redwood Valley, Comptche and Ukiah Valley fire departments has been dispatched to the Panther Fire, as well, Cal Fire said.

Cal Fire's Mendocino and Sonoma-Lake-Napa units have also moved large numbers of resources to the Panther incident: numerous engine teams, bulldozers, and other personnel, authorities said.

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