On Wednesday, the Porterville Fairgrounds announced CAL FIRE had made the grounds a base camp for the firefighters fighting the SQF Complex fires in the Sequoia National Forest. The grounds are also being used to house livestock that have been evacuated from communities affected by the fires.
On Thursday morning, CAL FIRE Public Information Officer Jonathan Pierce explained the purpose the base camp serves, who was managing the camp and what resources the camp provides to the firefighters.
“This base is managed by Incident Management Team 6,” said Pierce. “It’s a Type 1 Team. That means it’s the team that manages the most complex incidents, so it spans many jurisdictions including local, state and federal. They are all cooperating together. You’ll see that they are not all CAL FIRE, they are all different. Incident Management Team 6 is managed by multiple agencies.”
Pierce said the base camp is used for a multitude of different things including refueling, resupplying and resting. The base camp also houses the fire engines being used to combat the fires. Pierce said in the early mornings, engines can be seen lining the dirt lot just east of the fairground entrance.
“This is the firefighters base camp,” said Pierce. “They are coming here for resources and rest, and their commanders come here for briefings. These Incident Management Teams provide a lot of resources for the firefighters and everyone else, but particularly the firefighters. They have good meals, laundry facilities and shower facilities here. Our firefighters would stay off site, but they can come here for anything they need as far as resources. If anything gets damaged on the line, if they lose a hose, if they lose some clothing, if they need tools, they can get that all here. They can resupply and get fuel. From here, they go and rest or go back out to fight the fire.”
In addition to hosting Incident Management Team 6, the Porterville Fairgrounds are also being used to house evacuated livestock. The fairgrounds are one of three locations throughout Tulare County that have agreed to house evacuated animals. The Woodlake Fair and Rodeo Grounds are also allowing evacuated livestock to be housed there, and the Tulare County Animal Shelter in Visalia is accepting smaller domestic animals that need to be temporarily sheltered from the fires.
At the Porterville Fairgrounds, Tulare County Animal Services is on site until 8 p.m. daily. The agency handles the check-in and care for the evacuated animals.
For more information call the Porterville Fairgrounds at (559)781-6582.
For an interactive map depicting the SQF Complex evacuation areas, visit https://tularecounty.ca.gov/emergencies/.
To stay up to date with the SQF Complex, follow the Sequoia National Forest on Facebook.