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Resources from the Central Coast are responding to fires burning in multiple states

Red Cross volunteer Omar Salem from Seaside left for the Goodwin Fire on Friday. The 25,000 acre fire has already destroyed five homes while hundreds more remain in its path. Some of those residents evacuated will have no one to turn to but the American Red Cross.

“It doesn’t matter what the disaster is, it’s the same type of work,” Salem said. “People just trying to find some semblance of comfort and so for me, my job is pretty much the same.”

While this is his first large scale disaster deployment, he has helped out on disasters before. He worked at a shelter this past winter on the Central Coast, when flooding forced people from their homes. He also responds to house fires and other smaller scale emergencies. No word how long his deployment will be, but they typically last about two weeks.

Meantime, Calfire crews from Monterey and San Benito counties have deployed strike teams to the Ben Fire in Mariposa County and the Hill Fire in San Luis Obispo County.

“They may simply cover the open fire stations where they’re going, to provide fire protection in those areas while those engines are on the fire,” Capt. John Spooner said. ‘Or they may go directly to the fire and participate in the fire suppression activities.”

Capt. Spooner said the big concern for the state this year is a Soberanes type fire in the Sierra Nevadas, fueled by stands of dead trees.

“The kinds of fires that will burn over there will be hot, fast moving and catastrophic fires,” Spooner said. “The fires would be so intense that it could change the entire ecology of those areas , the fire would sterilize the soil and basically life would begin all over again, totally different from what it has developed to now.”

Despite what happens during the summer, back at the Monterey Airport, Salem said he’s amazed at the hardships people can overcome during disasters.

“It’s one of the hardest times in their life so people are just extremely grateful and they also, there’s a sense they want to help out too,” Salem said. “They’re away from their homes but I’ve also seen people really kind of step up, even when they’re in a disaster scenario. They want to help out and set up cots, whatever they can do to help, so that’s what heartwarming and inspirational too.”

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