Fires Rage-- Emergency Coordination Underway

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

At first glance the state Joint Information Center looks like a very modern amphitheater… The focal point of the room is a group of large television screens on the wall—most are tuned to news.  Near the screens is a large conference table. Roughly once an hour leaders from different government and aid organizations meet to plan.  State Office of Emergency Services Spokesman Scott McCartney explains this is where they help organize firefighting efforts hundreds of miles away.  

 “It brings all the agencies that are affected or possibly could  be affected regarding mutual aid together one room so that if I have a question for law enforcement I don’t have to run and call somebody…” 

McCartney says the Center fields requests for firefighters, equipment or other types of aid.  Those working in the center figure out how to get the local areas what they need.
To make sure there are plenty of firefighters on the line, state officials have decided to rescind orders to end fire season in Northern California.  CalFire Spokesman Daniel Berlant says that means they’re hiring back their seasonal workers-- largely to help with the needs in the south—and statewide. 

 “We’ve already sent hundreds of fire engines from Northern California, all of our air resources to Southern California but we want to make sure we have enough of staffing to still be available in Northern California to respond to other incidents or accidents.”
Other states are also being tapped for help including Nevada and Arizona… The California Highway Patrol is sending extra officers. They’ll help protect property from looters, and assist with evacuations and traffic control.  The California National Guard is helping with security and medical operations.