Local DEC ranger fought California fires

WARRENSBURG Forest Ranger Charles Kabrehl of Chestertown has fought many fires in his seven years of service. However, he and 20 fellow state Department of Environmental Conservation employees faced something a bit more intense as they battled raging wildfires in California over the last few weeks. Monterey Valley, a densely populated region near San Jose, has been experiencing abnormally dry conditions this year, Kabrehl said this week. He stated that he has fought a lot of fires in the past, but this instance was unusual. When we arrived on July 11 there were over 150,000 acres burning, he said. And this one was very close to several populated communities. Knowing this fact, there was a heightened sense of urgency with this fire among his fellow DEC rangers, he said. There was also more interaction with the community than is typical. Kabrehl stated that he found that aspect very rewarding. He said that there were 2,000 fire fighters at the main camp, hailing from all over the coutry. The local residents frequently brought food and other gestures of appreciation he said. The people in the western part of the country are really familiar with forest fires and how destructive they can be, Kabrehl said. Kabrehl has made five similar trips out west prior to the Monterey County fire. Kabrehl said that there is a federal resource distribution center, the Federal Resource Order System, which allows regions in need of natural disaster assistance to request aid from agencies outside of their home state. The federal system helps allocate not only man power, but supplies and technology as well to area which drastically require the resources. The western resources were tapped out, Kabrehl said. When this happens, they raise our preparedness levels. On July 29, when the New York State DEC crews left to return home, the fire was all but entirely contained, he said. This is what we do, he said. It just feels good to help people out. According to Kabrehl, this year has been a very active fire year nationally. Unlike western fires, which are often the result of lightening strikes, fires in New York State are generally attributed to human error or incompetence. Most fires around here are the result of burn barrels or some other human activity, he said.

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