Zayante Fire Chief John Stipes, along with engines from Felton, Scotts Valley, Branciforte, Central and University of California, Santa Cruz fire protection districts are in the Yosemite area battling the massive Rim Fire.
The strike team includes 20 firefighters with Stipes as the strike team leader and Michael Conrad, a strike team leader trainee from Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District.
The team left on Monday, Aug. 26 from Scotts Valley Fire Protection District and was assigned to structure defense on Tuesday, Aug. 27. They are among 4,191 firefighters battling the blaze.
The Rim Fire, as of Wednesday, Aug. 28 had burned 187,466 acres in the Stanislaus National Forest northwest of the Yosemite Valley. The fire began Aug. 17 and was 23 percent contained on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Scotts Valley Battalion Chief Jim Delucchi, strike teams — like this one from Santa Cruz County — are called on by the California Office of Emergency when the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection needs assistance to battle fires in the state.
Stipes is leading this strike team based on a rotation among the county’s fire chiefs.
The Rim Fire ranks as the 7th-largest recorded wildfire in California’s history. The largest, according to Cal Fire records, was the Cedar Fire in San Diego County in October 2003.