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Burbank 'strikes' back outside city

July 17, 2002

Ryan Carter

No brush fires in the Verdugo Mountains doesn't mean it hasn't

been a busy summer so far for Burbank firefighters.

The workload hasn't necessarily come from inside the city, either.

Since May, the department has gone on eight strike team calls to

help fight brush fires in surrounding areas. A strike team consists

of five engines, a battalion chief and a captain. Burbank sends at

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least one engine, sometimes two, to each call.

Every year, the department sends those teams to support fire

fighting efforts in other places. The difference is that this year,

the calls have already started.

"It's been more than previous years because the fire season has

hit earlier this year," Burbank Fire Marshal Dave Starr said. "We've

had some major fires prior to the end of June and the potential is

for there to be a lot more."

Burbank's first strike team call was May 11 in Bouquet Canyon,

about eight miles northeast of Santa Clarita. They were there nine

hours. The next day, a strike team spent 10 hours at a fire in nearby

San Francisquito Canyon. On May 13, they were called to Rancho Santa

Margarita for five hours where teams helped protect hundreds of

threatened homes.

June was another busy month, with another fire in San Francisquito

Canyon on June 5 and 6 -- local crews were there for 120 hours.

Meanwhile, on June 6, a team spent 48 hours at a fire in Bouquet

Canyon. So far this month, a crew has spent seven hours battling a

blaze in another area, on July 8 in Placerita Canyon near Santa

Clarita.

Depleted local resources are backed up by reserve engines and

overtime staffing, Starr said. Officials stress that going to other

cities serves a mutual-aid function.

"How would you fight a fire when you need 200 engines on our

hillside?" Starr asked. "The only way you could is by being part of a

system."

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