Local crews helping fight wildfires across state - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local crews helping fight wildfires across state

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/AP) - Wildfires raging across California are burning up forests and destroying homes. At least 21 fires are burning throughout the state, including a large fire that's doubled in size in Northern California. 

Lighting strikes are to blame for the series of fires currently raging in Northern California. 

Governor Jerry Brown declared state of emergency. 

More than 9,000 firefighters have been working the fires statewide.

So far, 28 San Diego City firefighters have joined the effort. Other surrounding cities have also sent crews, as well as Cal Fire, which has sent 54 firefighters. 

"Right now as you know, Northern California is just having significant fire activity and they call on resources from all over California to assist and help out," says Cal Fire Captain Kendal Bortiesser. 

Firefighters battling raging wildfires in Northern California are getting support from San Diegans. Cal Fire sent up four engine strike teams, 20 engines, eight hand crews and numerous firefighters working in personnel overhead assignments. 

Bulldozers have also been sent to fight the fires. 

It's all part of a mass, mutual aid system started in the 1970's. One San Diego firefighter in the Sacramento area who is assisting on the Rocky Fire says all the crews are highly involved.

"Once they're in the system, they're able to respond to any new fires in the event that something should break out. So, if they're released from one particular fire, or on their way back home and another fire should break out, they're available to respond to that fire," says Cal Fire Captain Kendal Bortiesser.

The biggest California wildfire — raging in the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco — spread overnight to cover even more drought-stricken ground, expanding more than 30 square miles in four or five hours, said California's Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott.

The fast-moving blaze had charred 71 square miles by Sunday, an area much bigger than San Francisco's 49 square miles. As of the morning of Monday, August 3, 60,000 acres had burned. It is only 12-percent contained. 

The fire has destroyed 24 homes and 26 outbuildings and was threatening more than 6,300 homes.

Cal Fire says there have been times where crews were gone for as long as 45 days and with the fire danger intensifying in the state, firefighters say they could be up there for the long haul.

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