Monterey County

Soberanes crews "fight fire with fire"

Setting backfires a key strategy in containing Soberanes Fire

Soberanes fire crews use control burns to fight fire

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - Fire crews battling the more than 53,000 acre Soberanes Fire are fighting fire with fire. Sparking an intentional burn -- or backfire -- is dangerous work, but an important part of containing the fire's spread.

As firefighters plan out yet another day battling the Soberanes Fire, Jeff Wickiser is thankful his home in Carmel Valley is still standing.

"My father-in-law built the house that I plan to raise my daughter in," said Wickiser.

Firefighters did a controlled burn near Wickiser's home in Cachucha on Thursday night.

"It started to look like day time at some points and the flames coming up over the hill were pretty intense," said Wickiser.

Wickiser is describing a control line and that is like fighting fire with fire.

"Were having our crews go in there and fire off from those lines burning back towards the fire," said Don Jaques with the U.S. Forest Service. 

These burns get rid of all that dry fuel out in the valley, according to Jaques.

"So when the fire does approach that area it is already burned and we don't have the large rush," said Jaques. "We are doing it on our terms rather than when it might be
adversarial to us," said Jaques.

Now that progress is being made in Carmel Valley concern is now shifting to the south, specifically the Ventana wilderness where terrain is tough.

"Very steep slopes, a lot of vegetation in there. It's not a very safe place for us to put people in
there," said Jaques.  

With that in mind, the air attack has become even more important.

"We can go in with aerial equipment and essentially burn back toward the fire creating that buffer zone," said Jaques. "So the aerial equipment is certainly a huge assets."

Meantime, back at the Cachauca General Store, Wickiser is thanking firefighters for the work they have done to help save his community.

"I think they are all working really hard and I totally support them," said Wickiser. 

There is still no word from Cal Fire on when mandatory evacuation orders will be lifted.


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