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Environment & Science

Sherpa Fire: Firefighters face exhaustion amid extreme heat




The King River Hotshots monitor a firing operation as their colleagues on the ridge above conduct the operation, meant to deprive the Sherpa Fire of fuels in El Capitan Canyon.
The King River Hotshots monitor a firing operation as their colleagues on the ridge above conduct the operation, meant to deprive the Sherpa Fire of fuels in El Capitan Canyon.
Stuart Palley

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A wildfire in Santa Barbara County has  grown to more than 4,000 acres overnight and has put 270 homes in danger. The Sherpa Fire has only reached 5 percent containment, and to make things more difficult, crews have a hot weekend headed their way

“The heat really wears on the fatigue of the firefighters," Raj Singh, spokesman for the South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team, told Take Two. He said that firefighters have the know-how to deal with wind and other fire behaviors, but the heat on top of the heat of the fire causes greater physical exhaustion. 

Overnight winds hampered containment efforts, but Singh said crews are taking advantage of the still daytime air to prepare for the wind's return this evening. 

“We’re just taking advantage of those conditions and building those containment lines, and using that natural barrier to hopefully prevent future fires in that area,” Singh said. 

About 1,200 firefighters are working to combat the flames, and more are on their way. While Singh said that the crews are taken care of in terms of basic needs at the incident command center, people can also show support by donating local postcards. 

"If some of these fire crews have already been on the road on other fires and come directly here, they haven’t been home in several weeks, maybe a month," Singh said.

To donate postcards, deliver them to the incident command center or give them to fire crews you spot in the area.

The Sherpa Fire broke out Wednesday afternoon in the Refugio Canyon area of Los Padres National Forest. 

Click the blue button at the top to hear a full update on the Sherpa Fire from the incident command center.