East Jefferson County firefighters are helping to mop up the Kincade Fire as in this photo of the charred shell of a home near Kellogg, Calif., in Sonoma County.

East Jefferson County firefighters are helping to mop up the Kincade Fire as in this photo of the charred shell of a home near Kellogg, Calif., in Sonoma County.

Jefferson County firefighters continue fighting blaze in California

PORT TOWNSEND — East Jefferson County firefighters continue to assist in the battle against the Kincade Fire in California’s Sonoma County.

The fire was 72 percent contained as of Saturday afternoon and is predicted to be completely contained by Wednesday, according to the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

Two of the crew members fighting the blaze are from East Jefferson Fire Rescue and a third is from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue. They left for California on Monday and could be there for 21 days. They have not been identified so as to protect their families, said Fire Chief Jim Walkowski of East Jefferson Fire Rescue.

They are part of a regional strike team from Puget Sound that includes personnel from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, North Kitsap Fire Rescue and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

The strike team was assigned to structural protection detail — protecting structures from nearby fires —and conducting mop-up operations, Walkowski said.

The mop-up operations have the teams monitoring already extinguished areas, making sure there are no hot spots that may spark additional fires outside the containment zone, as the teams work inwards towards the fire, Walkowski said.

The team members go where they’re needed, Walkowski said.

“It’s just based off the incident needs,” Walkowski said. “I would imagine what they will continue to do is exactly what they are assigned to do today.

“They’re going to continue to do structural protection, which means if another fire breaks out, they can rapidly deploy to protect communities that may be potentially impacted.”

As of Friday, there have been no causalities reported (neither civilian and first responder), but four first responders have been listed as injured, Cal Fire reported.

None of the strike team has been injured as of Friday, Walkowski said.

“Everybody in our strike team is in good shape, tired, but in good shape,” Walkowski said.

The fire has claimed 77,758 acres since it began on Oct. 23 and had 1,630 structures threatened, a significant drop from the Thursday when more than 90,000 structures threatened, Cal Fire reported.

“Fire personnel made good headway in their fire-fighting efforts overnight,” Cal Fire said. “Because of this progress, re-population planning efforts are still underway.

“Access to the northern part of the fire remains challenging because of steep terrain and narrow roads, but firefighters will continue to build on the headway they have been making with even more control lines being established.”

More information can be found at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-kincadefire.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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