SQF Complex Fire: What it means to be resource deprived

Resource deprived. We hear zone commanders telling their firefighters at morning briefings that the SQF Fire is a resource deprived fire. “Do not depend on getting more today; plan your day with the resources you have.” In other words, Incident Command would like to be ordering more resources but with the amount of fires burning they just aren’t available.

Firefighting resources include at any given time during a fire like the SQF Complex: engines, water tenders, helicopters, air tankers, support and spotter aircraft, boots on the ground like hand crews often dropped into hotspots at the most dangerous parts of the fire, support personnel, dozers, trucks, vehicles to transport all the teams of emergency services; it’s nearly impossible to list everything unless you are the finance officer at Incident Command and are in charge of paying for this firefighting army. 

So what does resource deprived mean to the firefighters waging the backbreaking work trying to contain an out of control monster.  It means cabins and summer homes lost on the SQFComplex (148 so far at places like Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, Cedar Slope) and forest infrastructure and facilities also lost to the fire like the Jordan Peak Lookout. 

With the unprecedented amount of heat being released from the burning fuels, there’s no telling what if any of these burned out properties could have been spared if all the resources fighting fires in California could have been deployed on the SQF Complex. Remarkably, there have been no deaths; 15 injuries and numerous close calls. 

California Statewide Fire Summary

On Wednesday, September 23, after full containment of the CZU Lightning Complex in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties, some additional resources have been made available to battle 26 remaining major wildfires in California. As of September 23, there are over 18,200 firefighters on the frontlines. Firefighters continue to make progress on over two dozen major wildfires, as well as the 22 new initial attack wildfires that were sparked across the State yesterday (September 22).

As of September 23, total personnel working on the SQF Complex Fire is 1,508. 

Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 8,000 wildfires that have burned over 3.6 million acres in California. Since August 15, when California’s fire activity accelerated, there have been 26 fatalities and over 6,600 structures destroyed. And now a Fire Watch will be in effect beginning Saturday, September 26. A Fire Watch most often precipitates a Red Flag Warning and there is critical fire weather on the way. Gusty winds, low humidity, and rising temperatures are in the forecast for Northern California and that almost certainly means more fires and more resources needed. 

CALFIRE veterans know what’s looming on the horizon is the southern California fire season driven by the Devil Winds, also known as the Santa Anas. Where will California get the resources to hold the line against all these fires? That question was posed to Assemblyman Jim Patterson, California State Assembly District 23 that includes Three Rivers but also the Fresno  County communities of Auberry and Shaver Lake currently dealing with Creek Fire.

In this 3RNews video, Assemblyman Patterson said his priority, when he returns to Sacramento after visiting the SQF Complex Fire and the Creek Fire, is to ensure that these firefighting heroes are no longer resource deprived.       

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4 thoughts on “SQF Complex Fire: What it means to be resource deprived

  • September 24, 2020 at 8:04 am

    I know Jim Patterson to be a good man. Resources spread thin is exactly what has allowed this Castle fire to burn for as long as it has. I’m happy that Assemblyman Patterson recognizes that and plans to do something about it.
    Although this is the worst fire season in California’s history (and this season is far from being over), I shudder to think that within a few years the record that was set this summer will be broken. The trend is unmistakable. And, sorry Jim, the “improper raking” of our forests is not the cause. Will your party have to personally feel it in their collective pocketbooks before they’ll be willing to take a serious look at this issue?

    • September 24, 2020 at 5:28 pm

      Your “party”? With all due respect, the last time I checked, we are all in this together. We need to come together and not disparage each other’s political perspective. For the record the Democratic Party has run this state for many many years. Please don’t blame someone who likely has very little say in what is done in Sacramento.

      • September 24, 2020 at 9:26 pm

        I’m confused. I thought this was all on Fedrally-administered land. Is it State Parks land?

        • September 25, 2020 at 10:34 am

          The confusion comes from the fact that Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest, located on the eastside of the SQF Complex Fire, is one of eight such Demonstration Forests operated by CALFIRE and used as a camp for firefighters and field training for protection of critical resources like giant sequoias and cultural resources. This demo forest has unique resources: old-growth giant sequoias and prehistoric bedrock mortars and basins estimated to be several thousands of years old. The State-protected area is 4,807 acres. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of thousands of acres of national parks and forest land managed by the federal government in the SQF Complex Fire area.


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