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Central Coast firefighters assist with Washburn Fire in Yosemite National Park

SLO City Fire Washburn Fire.jpg
California Wildfires
Posted at 12:14 PM, Jul 15, 2022

Emergency responders from the Central Coast are helping battle the Washburn Fire, which sparked Tuesday in Yosemite National Park.

“Right now, the City of San Luis Obispo has five firefighters that are currently assigned to the Washburn incident," said James Blattler, the emergency manager for the City of San Luis Obispo.

The system where responders from other areas come in is called mutual aid. It is a way to make sure there are enough resources to help during large-scale emergencies.

“So the City of San Luis Obispo Fire Department maintains minimum staffing levels of 14 firefighters that are on duty each day and so those 14 firefighters are strategically placed at different fire stations throughout our community and they staff different response apparatus,” Blattler said.

The City has a total of 46 firefighters and Blattler says they make sure they always have enough on hand. Crews who go out on assignment are typically there for the length of time it takes to get matters under control, which can extend up to a couple of weeks or even more.

“If it looks like that incident needs resource support for a significant amount of time, we have the ability to swap crews out to make sure that the crews on the fire line remain fresh and can come back, see their families,” Blattler said.

SLO City Fire often helps with mutual aid, but has also been on the receiving end of it as there are some situations that immediately trigger outside agency support.

“So that can be like a structure fire or vegetation fire that occurs and other times we look to mutual aid to where we request additional resources on top of our current response that come within the County," Blattler said.

Some of the most recent examples were during the South Hills Fire in the South Hills Open Space in San Luis Obispo. CAL FIRE SLO has about six firefighters currently assigned to the blaze.