Menlo Park district fire crew deployed to Butte Fire


Menlo Fire Engine 4 with a crew of four was deployed Saturday to the Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties, Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District said on Sunday.

This is one of 15 fire engines from San Mateo County that have been sent to fight the fire, he said. The Menlo Park unit and crew were on the south end of the fire line Sunday morning as part of a Southern San Mateo County strike team, made up of five "heavy" or municipal fire engines, he said.

This is the second time this fire season that the Menlo Fire Engine 4 unit has been deployed.

In the Menlo Park fire district, a relief crew and reserve engine were in service Sunday so "we are fully staffed" with additional reserve units available, the chief said.

Commanding the strike team is Deputy Fire Chief Don Long of the Menlo Park district. The former deputy chief for the Merced Fire Department, Mr. Long was hired by the Menlo Park district in January and has extensive wild land firefighting experience, Chief Schapelhouman said.

Over the past two-plus months, the Menlo Park district has had an average of three support personnel deployed for the wildfires to fill such roles as medical unit leaders, base camp managers and fire line paramedics, the chief said.

"We understand people are losing their homes, other communities are threatened or being overrun and that fire conditions have become extreme, so every fire agency in Northern California is being asked to give what they can and we are happy to play our part," Chief Schapelhouman said.

One of the Menlo Park district's retired captains lost his home to the Butte Fire on Sept. 11. "I spoke with him last night," the chief said. He, his wife and new puppy are OK and living in a trailer in Lodi. "They were happy to be alive, felt blessed to have insurance, and he told me it was odd to be on the other side of a fire, as a victim instead of as a first responder."

The Butte Fire started Wednesday, has burned more than 64,000 acres and is 10 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

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