ABOVE: LAFD personnel work to douse the flames of a structure fire during the Creek Fire. Photo by Greg Doyle.
Devastating wildfires from October 2017 to January 2018, followed by unprecedented mudslides in some areas, have left the Golden State with a $1.8 billion dollar bill to pay. That isn’t counting the staggering insurance claims in the wake of the devastation left behind, which are currently estimated to reach $12 million or higher.
Though the hardship of rebuilding continues months after the destruction, it shouldn’t be forgotten what the men and women of the LAFD did for us during this dark time. From sending strike teams to the Tubbs Fire, which now stands as the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, to the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in the state’s history, the LAFD was there to support agencies throughout the state as they worked around the clock to save lives and property.
The fires didn’t stay far, however, and quickly began sparking throughout Southern California. While LAFD crews continued to assist agencies battling the Thomas Fire throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, the Creek, Rye and Skirball wildfires all ignited within a 48-hour window between December 5 and 6, bringing the wave of wildfires to the LAFD’s front door. Ultimately, the LAFD handled four major wildfires at once while continuing to serve the standard 471-square-mile jurisdiction and the 1,300 emergency calls received daily.
As the new year began and the last of these fires was extinguished, it was thought by many that a sense of normalcy would finally begin to return. This was not the case for those in Montecito, however, as massive amounts of rain in mid-January led to a wave of deadly mudslides throughout the area. The LAFD responded to this by sending a total of 85 personnel in the form of: the Urban Search & Rescue Regional Task Force 9 (CA RTF-9), 2 Strike Teams, search dogs, a peer support team, and others.
The LAFD was there, through it all. From assisting communities hundreds of miles away to those just around the corner; the men and women of this phenomenal department carried out their mission to serve those affected in their time of need.