Central Valley firefighters working long shifts as they help battle massive Caldor Fire

CBS47 News

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Crews on the Caldor Fire made significant progress over the weekend and evacuation orders began to lift.

Central Valley firefighters and law enforcement from agencies across the region answered the call for help as the fire, burning near South Lake Tahoe, exploded and thousands of people were evacuated.

Mickey Brunelli of Merced Fire Department had just come off a 34-hour shift Monday but said a homecoming for his team is still a way out.

“I believe this is day 7 or 8 on this incident for us. So we have usually another 7 or 8 days to go before we can even think about that, but we’re committed to staying as long as it takes to help mitigate the emergency,” he said.

Brunelli said fire behavior in recent years is unlike anything he saw in the first 20 years of his career.

The Caldor Fire broke out just over three weeks ago near the California-Nevada border. Since then teams from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno Fire Department, Fresno Police, and many more have made the journey to help.

As residents returned home they said they were grateful for all who stepped up.

“You can’t show enough appreciation for how well they, you know, fought this and were able to contain it from the city itself,” Lisa Suela said.

Brunelli said for the valley crews on the front lines, the appreciation is mutual.

“For us a privilege to help our community in times of need and really it’s an honor that they have that type of faith in us, that they allow us to come into their community and try to help them in their time of need,” he said.

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