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Local firefighters on the front lines of wildfires across the state

Saddleridge Fire
Posted at 7:26 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 22:53:53-04
The challenges local firefighters are facing as they help fight statewide fires

Firefighters from across the Central Coast have been helping fight fires all over the state and by no means is it an easy job.

The Santa Maria Fire Department currently has eight firefighters helping out with the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and the Lompoc Fire Department has five of their firefighters there as well.

Santa Maria Fire Captain Elijah Coleman said as first responders, they are willing to help as much as possible during times like these, but unfortunately, events like these have impacts on local departments.

"We are a smaller department so when we get 8 people, that makes an impact on our department. So sending much more than that is pretty tough just so we can maintain coverage here in the city, too," Coleman said.

It also means working hours on end.

"Especially the first three days, you are pretty much no sleep," said Coleman. "You know you will be up for three days straight until more resources get in there."

Another challenge firefighters face is that of unfamiliar territory.

"Sometimes we've been to fires there, sometimes we haven't, but for the most part, it is unfamiliar territory, so that is always a challenge and, you know, family life too," said Coleman.

While firefighters are the ones on the front lines, organizations like the American Red Cross are also there to help, even sending local volunteers.

"In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, we've actually sent some volunteers up to the Kincade Fire to be able to provide that hope and comfort that those people are really looking for," said Nicole Maul, spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

According to the Red Cross, as of Wednesday night, more than 900 people sought shelter from the Red Cross or other community organizations.

The American Red Cross said they have mental health providers who can help talk with those who may be experiencing hardship.

At these shelter centers, the Red Cross also has nurses on site and many other essentials like tooth brushes, tooth paste, shampoo and wash cloths.