Of 6,100 firefighters battling about 15 wildfires statewide, 1,599, or roughly 26 percent were on the job in Butte County, working to contain the Wall fire.
With 5,600 acres burned, it covers less area than some fires, such as the Alamo fire near Santa Maria, (which has burned almost 29,000 acres) but because of the threat it poses, more resources (by the acre) are being dedicated to containing it, said Amy Head, a Cal Fire spokesperson.
As of Monday, the Wall fire had destroyed or damaged 22 structures and threatened 5,400, compared to the Alamo fire that had only destroyed one structure and threatened 133.
The impact on people is the determining factor in where to send resources. The Wall fire is having a high impact, forcing the evacuation of thousands of Butte County residents and prompting the governor to declare an emergency.
“It’s kind of a choreographed dance between where the fires are and where we send resources next,” Head said, adding that as one fire is contained, firefighters and equipment are dispatched to the other fires.
As of Monday afternoon, the Willow fire in Contra Costa County, the Bryant fire in San Bernardino County and the West fire in Yuba County were fully contained, according to information posted on the Cal Fire website.
It’s difficult to calculate the exact number of firefighters available at any given time in California, because of the many different agencies that employ them. Whether the lead agency is federal, state or local depends on who owns the land; however, fighting wildfires it typically a collaborative effort involving firefighters from different departments.
Wildfire is on the increase so far this year, with more than double the number of acres burned compared to the same time last year, Head said. So far this year, Cal Fire has responded to 2,905 fires, accounting for 68,129 acres. up from 2,270 fires totaling 30,574 acres.
“We’re getting into the busy time of year,” she said. “We saw a big increase in the number of fires -- last week alone there were 633 new fires.”