When a wildland emergency the size of the 2,500-acre-plus Minerva Fire strikes a mountain community like Quincy, you need more than a little help from your friends — you need all the help you can get.
That’s where statewide emergency management services and mutual aid agreements come in. They can also be nationwide mutual aid calls — a coordinated system that brings emergency personnel and resources — think trucks, tankers and highly skilled responders — to join forces and fight off fires, floods and more.
When the Minerva Fire grew from five small fires began to merge over the weekend of July 29, help was already rolling into town.
Being a firefighter means always being ready to get called out. With mutual aid, that could mean being sent far from your own home jurisdiction.
“It’s part of what we do and we’re glad to be here,” said firefighter Martin Lomeli. “We know if we needed it, you’d come and help us.”
Lomeli and Steven Chet, firefighters on Engine 216 with the San Jose Fire Department, got the call to head to Quincy with some of their coworkers on Sunday, July 30. They drove all night to get here to help fight the Minerva Fire.
Michelle Carbonaro of the Stanislaus National Forest, an assistant captain with bulldozer experience herself, is one of the public information officers on the Minerva Fire for the South Central Sierra Interagency Management Team, the lead for coordinating the Minerva Fire response.
“With mutual aid,” Carbonaro said, “we’ve sent folks from our own U.S. teams as far away as…
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