After the wildfire is contained: Suppression repair

Forestry teams and firefighters continue to work on the ground to fully contain wildfires and repair damage caused to fire lines by the Mendocino Complex and neighboring fires


While the City of Redding, Ca., burned, we followed the dramatic stories and pictures coming out of the front lines of the initial firefight. We watched as helicopters and planes dropped water and retardant over swaths of burning forest, and harrowing near-miss accounts made front page headlines. Yet, weeks after the start of the Mendocino Complex fire, even at 98 percent containment, more than 500 firefighters and support personnel remained assigned to the area. The Mendocino Complex includes the Ranch and River fires, which burned 460,000 acres of California forest.

Chances for rain were bleak, winds were steady, temperatures were high and humidity levels were low – just the explosive range a wildfire loves and feeds on – when this latest outbreak took hold in a fire season that is quickly becoming a 24/7/365 regularity.

In an effort to understand the ongoing firefight, I interviewed Captain Jim Mackensen, retired from the Cosumnes, Ca., Fire Department. As part of federal forestry deployments since May, 2018, he has been deployed 79 days to eight wildfires in Colorado and California. I spoke to Captain Mackensen after he returned from his first assignment to the Mendocino Complex.

Responsibilities vary as firefighters are deployed to fires with unique names like Burrow, Chateau, Lake Christina, Holy, Hirz and North. When we spoke, Mackensen was anticipating redeployment to the Ranch fire portion of the Mendocino Complex.

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