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Area firefighters join fight against Lake Tahoe fire

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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2007 10:00 pm

Several dozen firefighters from throughout San Joaquin County have joined the effort to stop a Lake Tahoe fire that has burnt thousands of acres and hundreds of homes.

The county's first strike team left Sunday and included four Lodi firefighters and a reserve engine from the city, said Battalion Chief Ron Heberle.

They joined three firefighters from Liberty Fire Protection District, as well as firefighters from Tracy, Lathrop-Manteca and Farmington. All told, San Joaquin County sent 21 firefighters and five engines to fight the blaze, according to the county's Department of Emergency Operations.

The team arrived in the Tahoe area Sunday night and on Monday morning were assigned to mop up a burned area, said Stan Seifert, Liberty's chief.

They cleared the area around houses that had been saved so they wouldn't burn, Seifert said by cell phone from Lake Tahoe before his connection was dropped.

The second team left Monday around noon, said Darin Downey, acting captain for Woodbridge Fire. Woodbridge sent four firefighters and one vehicle, and they met up with the rest of the team at Highway 99 and Jahant, then traveled the rest of the way together.

That team also included 21 firefighters and five engines from Woodbridge, Stockton, Manteca, Tracy and a team from Stanislaus County, said Jeff Angeli, chief of the Waterloo-Morada Fire District.

Departments who could spare personnel sent firefighters in response to a request for mutual aid, a process used throughout the country for disasters ranging from fires to floods.

Some law enforcement officers from San Joaquin County are on standby if needed, but by Monday evening they had not been called.

How long the firefighters will be needed will depend on the fire, but after four or five days they would likely be replaced, local fire officials said.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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