Layton firefighters helping to battle wildfires in Southern California

Jul 18, 2023, 11:40 AM | Updated: 11:50 am

SAN BERNARDINO NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. —Firefighters from two counties were assisting their counterparts in Southern California Monday in responding to fires, providing backup to other California crews that had already been stretched elsewhere across the country.

Layton City Fire Captain Cyle Hall said Monday he and two others from his department were stationed in the region until early August with Tuesday being their first day of work.

An engine team from Utah County was also aiding firefighters there, according to Hall.

“Right now, San Bernardino (National) Forest is stretched a little short,” Hall told KSL TV in a FaceTime interview Monday evening. “They asked us to come down and give them a hand with some of the fires as they’re starting to kick off as we’re getting this triple-digit weather.”

Hall said repeated days of 100-degree heat had helped contribute to an active fire pattern that included the Rabbit Fire in Riverside County, which as of Tuesday morning stood at nearly 8,300 acres.

“They’re actually having a couple good days in the high 90s, if you can call that good, and then we’re heading back to 104, 105 (degree) temperatures for the rest of the week, so very dangerous,” Hall said.

The engine boss said he had been traveling to fires across the country for the past 18 years and it had helped with his and others’ training and preparation for wildland fires in Utah.

Hall acknowledged the upcoming weather pattern for northern Utah was starting to look eerily similar to that of Southern California with several 100-degree days lining up in the forecast, not necessarily a promising proposition for the quickly-drying grasses and brush on hillsides around the Wasatch Front.

“In 100-plus degree temperatures, they’ll be ready to burn as well,” Hall said. “Yeah, we should be expecting the same fire dangers in Utah as they’re facing here now.”

He urged people to be particularly cautious in the outdoors not to spark anything in the weeks to come.

“It’s just kind of a perfect storm for fires to kick off quickly,” Hall said. “I’m sure we’re going to start seeing red flag warnings, which a lot of times people just don’t pay attention to those things but they matter and just be particularly safe when you’re out and about in the foothills. Those things can grow and grow quickly.”

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Layton firefighters helping to battle wildfires in Southern California