Local firefighter task force battles blaze in northern California

CALEXICO, Calif. – The Sand Canyon fire in Santa Clarita and the Monterey County fire has burned over 61,000 acres combined.

The Imperial County Firefighter Task Force (ICFTF) is there battling the raging flames that have forced thousands to evacuate their homes.

“The call came in on Sunday and they left Sunday evening – Sunday night,” Calexico Fire Captain Arnold Rivera said.

Twenty-two firefighters from Imperial County joined 3,000 other firefighters to fight the blaze.

“There’s hundreds of strike teams up there in the same fires,” Rivera said.

The Santa Clarita fire has burned over 38,000 acres of land, destroying 18 homes and buildings, and causing over 20,000 people to flee.

“From Santa Clarita they went up to the Monterey where they’re at right now. And they’ve been given a 24 hour assignment as of today,” Rivera said.

Officials say that fire is 40 percent contained. The ICFTF is now fighting the Monterey fire where one firefighter has already died there.

“To our men as far as we know right now nothing reported as far as our strike team.”

Over 3,000 firefighters face the Monterey County fire which has burned over 23,000 acres and is only about 10 percent contained.

The local task force has given some Calexico residents a reason to be proud.

“On this particular strike team of the task force, that is our fire chief that’s Pete Mercado, he’s the Calexico fire chief, he is the strike team leader,” Rivera said.

“Very smart, very dedicated and very quiet, but when he talks people listen,” City Councilman Armando Real said.

The thousands of firefighters will stay there until people can safely go back to whatever is left of their homes and officials say this might not be till the end of August.

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