Porterville Fairgrounds turned into mini-city as firefighters battle SQF Complex Fire

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PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KSEE) — In Tulare County, the SQF Complex Fire continues to grow. As of Saturday evening, officials say the fire burned 133,488 acres and is now at 14% containment.

Ryan Lubben, public information officer with Cal Fire says the number of personnel is increasing as the fire grows.

“Roughly over 1,400 firefighters right now are on the entire incident,” Lubben said.

All are working to battle the blaze from both the east and the west. 

“With where the fire is burning throughout the incident, it is on the west zone and the east zone which the forest service team is handling the east zone, there’s a lot of inaccessible terrains to get to,” Lubben said. 

The fire has consumed thousands and thousands of acres. So, because of the two zones, there are two base camps for fire crews. One is near Lake Isabella and the other is at the Porterville Fairgrounds. 

“The U.S. Service Forest team, those individuals are on the east zone of the fire they have their base camp, due to the drive times, we have the west zone base camp, where we’re at, for the drive time for this side of the fire, so that allows us to get firefighters from everywhere, all over the place,” he said.

Each base camp has turned into a mini-city equipped with everything firefighters need. At the site, they have mobile kitchen units, a cafeteria, sleep trailers, laundry services, showers, restrooms, and administration trailers.

Personnel can even camp out in tents. Lubben says crews work 24 hours on and 24 hours off. He says there is even a trailer on the base for those working the incident to receive mental health support if needed.

 “Anybody that’s assigned to this incident that can easily go and have that help if they need it and need someone to talk to,” he said.

This fire has been burning for over a month now and there is no telling how long firefighters will be assigned to it. But the community is grateful for their bravery.

The Red Cross is assisting those impacted by the California Wildfires.  You can help. Click this link to donate online:  https://www.redcross.org/donate/cm/ksee24-pub.html/

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