SALEM, Ore. - (Update: ODF crews still helping fight Thomas Fire)
All 15 Oregon State Fire Marshal strike teams that have been assisting with battling the major Southern California wildfires for the past two weeks have begun demobilizing and will head back to their home stations beginning Tuesday, officials said.
The strike teams have assisted with a number of fires since their deployments earlier this month. In the past week, all of the strike teams have been assisting with the Thomas Fire burning near Ventura, California. The California Office of Emergency Services reports that the Thomas Fire is at 271,750 acres and at 50 percent containment.
"We are extremely pleased with the performance of our strike teams," said State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. "Our teams have played an important role in helping our neighbors to the south and all of Oregon can be proud of the professionalism and effectiveness of our resources while dealing with these difficult fires."
The strike teams, including one from Central Oregon, are scheduled to demobilize throughout the day Tuesday, but due to the length of the drive and an incoming weather system to southern Oregon and northern California, teams will likely be arriving at their districts Wednesday.
The teams have been advised of the weather alerts and the OSFM is advising the California DOT, Oregon DOT, and Oregon State Police of the planned travel routes and times so they are aware of the strike teams returning home.
California made the requestfor assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact a national state-to-state mutual aid system. The EMAC request is sent directly to Oregon Emergency Management who contact and coordinate with the appropriate Oregon agency to fulfill the requests.
Meanwhile, about 25 engines and more than 60 firefighters from Oregon Department of Forestry districts and forest protectives associations remain in Southern California, helping battle the Thomas Fire. An ODF spokesman said Tuesday no date has been set yet for a return to Oregon.