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'A Really Tough Situation For All Of Us': Firefighters Battle California's Carr Fire

A firefighter looks on as the Carr Fire moves through the area on July 28, 2018 in Redding, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A firefighter looks on as the Carr Fire moves through the area on July 28, 2018 in Redding, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The wildfire raging in and around Redding, California, has killed at least six people and destroyed hundreds of buildings. But it’s not the only fire burning in the state. Cal Fire officials have counted 17, including one that’s just outside of Yosemite National Park.

Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti talks with Jonathan Cox (@firechiefcox), Northern California region battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Interview Highlights

On conditions fighting the Carr Fire

“The Carr Fire specifically is a tale of two fires at this point. On the one side in Redding, we have [a] good line within the city where our impacted structures [are], and our priority is to get people home. But on the other side, we still have a pretty tough firefight and some pretty remote, rugged terrain where it is continuing to kind of burn out of canyons. So that is all complicated by the fact that we still have triple-digit temperatures right now and a really thick smoke inversion, which slows down our ability to get aircraft in the air because of visibility.”

On how prepared people in California have to be amid these fires

“We are seeing an unprecedented beginning to what is traditionally a fire season in California, and what we now kind of refer to as the ‘new normal’ year-round. People across the state right now should be on alert that if there’s a fire that is burning in the area, although it may look small and fairly benign at one point, can quickly change, and Redding was an unfortunate and tragic example of just how fast conditions can change on these fires. We mourn the loss of all these community members and our own fellow firefighters. It’s a really tough situation for all of us, and we’re all working 24 hours a day just to kind of bring it to an end.”

On whether conditions will improve or stay the same for the rest of the summer

“We’re in the first couple innings right now of the fire season in California. That year-round kind of environment we have right now is just kind of leading to these conditions that are continuously dangerous. I think at the moment we’re a little bit at the mercy of Mother Nature. The winds and the temperatures are really what we battle against, those forces of nature at the moment. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat and a little bit of luck from Mother Nature as well for things to continue to improve.”

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