Wildfire fighters take note of Delaware crew’s ‘excellent’ morale

HAYFORK, Calif. — Even as Delaware’s wildfire crew team is set to possibly return home either Sunday or Monday, one from Maryland is preparing to head West.

The wildfire crew led by the Delaware Forest Service is near completion of a two-week assignment on the Fork Complex Fire, a 27,698-acre blaze near Hayfork, California, in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Almost 2,400 personnel are battling the fire that is currently 26 percent contained. The Fork Complex is one of several large wildfires in Northern California that together cover more than 223,000 acres.

DFS Assistant Forestry Administrator Kyle Hoyd, of Felton, is a member of the Delaware team. He reported Wednesday evening, “Yesterday we held line during a burnout operation. Burnout was a success and we are holding it today. If all goes well today, it will be a win.”

Fire officials on the scene have said that Delaware’s team has “excellent crew morale.”

The size of the fires prompted the National Interagency Fire Center to increase its National Preparedness Level Thursday to the maximum of 5 on a 5-point scale. That means that “geographic areas are experiencing major incidents which have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources.”

The center said 80 percent of management crews are committed, as well as the majority of other National Resources.”

According to Aitor Bidaburu, chair of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, said the complexity of the numbers and size of the fires, plus the continuing hot and dry weather, makes the situation complex for fire managers in making sure resources are available.

According to the latest NIFC situation report, as of Thursday, 73 uncontained large fires were burning nationwide, of which 34 were located in Northern California.

With an increasingly high demand for firefighters and resources, Delaware state forester and veteran crew boss Michael Valenti of Dover will lead a crew from Maryland that will mobilize Saturday morning and is expected to be assigned to fight fires in Montana in the Northern Rockies fire region.

Mr. Valenti will be accompanied by his son Nathan, who will be on his first firefighting assignment.
Delaware’s team could return to the First State on Sunday or Monday, depending on travel arrangements and flight times.

People wishing to read the latest news on the wildfire crew, can do so on the Delaware Forest Service Facebook page.

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