Heat harms firefighters in Butte County

CONCOW, Calif. In Butte County alone, nearly a dozen firefighters needed medical treatment before the afternoon sun even set in.

"We had multiple heat-related injuries," said Riverside County Firefighter Mike Mohler. "When we get these triple-digit temperatures and then you get low humidities, you put a firefighter on the line with the smoke and heat, they dehydrate."

The heat is very intense. It has reached triple digits, but as you get closer to the fire it could add another 200 degrees.

Firefighters carry a lot of water with them and are trained to work in these kinds of conditions. More importantly, everyone else around them knows the telltale signs of when their comrade is in heat-related trouble.

"The old skin test where you pinch your skin and see the rebound, and see if you even have water. That's too late. If it gets to that point, it's too late," said El Cerrito Firefighter Capt. Larry Carr.

A number of crews are working double or triple shifts despite the heat wave with no relief on the way.

"There's so many fires in Northern California that we are stretched very thin," said Melissa Smith of Cal-Fire. "There isn't any kind of ratio, work-to-rest ratio, right now."

While firefighters try to get a grip on the flames and heat, hundreds of evacuees have their own battle to contend with: their emotions. They do not know whether their properties are still standing.

The Godfreys had just gotten back from last week's evacuation when shifting winds put their home in the path of the fire again.

"We just put all of our stuff back in the house last night," Irene Godfrey said. "And then at 2 this morning they come around and said, 'You have to go', and we left with what we have."


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