Minnesota firefighter assisting with response to California wildfires

Deadly wildfires continue to spread through California with little end in sight. A Minnesota firefighter is among those coming from departments in other states to assist with the response. 

Erin Heep-MacEwen, who is based out of Ely, Minn., is currently stationed in Arcadia near the Angeles National Forest. She’s on standby to assist in any way she can.

“There are four national forests in southern California and if it should break out on forest service land or start elsewhere and go on to forest service land—our team is ready to go and they can respond quickly,” said Heep-MacEwen.

She has been in California over the last four days, but the forecast keeps getting worse, so she's been asked to stay longer.

“Our incident commander told us that the Santa Ana winds and the red flag warnings are not going to dissipate as early as we thought, so we were going to work tomorrow and then go home Wednesday, but the fire managers have requested that we stay another day,” said Heep-MacEwen.

Heep-MacEwen is part of the incident management team providing public information services on the ground to assist more than 8,000 firefighters battling three raging fires in northern and southern California.

“You have to always be thinking 'what if we get the call now, what’s the first thing I would do?' That kind of thing,” she said.

The most destructive wildfire in California's history is now on track to be the state's deadliest. Officials confirmed more than 30 people have died in the fires with more than 200 still reported missing. The fires keep coming closer to where Heep-MacEwen is staying--at last check in another blaze started near her office.

“We just noticed earlier this afternoon there was a new start and someone just told me it was 10 miles down the road,” she said.

The fires have destroyed some 7,000 homes and businesses. There is a team of six volunteers from the Minnesota Red Cross also out in California.