Female inmate crews join Valley Fire response

Staff and strike teams from the Rainbow and Puerta La Cruz fire camps joined forces to help battle the devastating Valley Fire.

Staff and strike teams from the Rainbow and Puerta La Cruz fire camps joined forces to help battle the devastating Valley Fire.

Two CDCR fire camps team for effort

By Lt. Rosie Thomas, AA/Public Information Officer
California Institution for Women

Women from two California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) fire camps were part of the massive response this fall to the Valley Fire, a 76,000-acre blaze that destroyed 1,280 homes, displaced thousands of residents and killed two people.

When the fire erupted on Sept. 12, thousands of CDCR inmate fire crews joined the response, traveling from camps throughout California. They worked alongside CAL FIRE and local crews, clearing miles of brush down to bare dirt to stop the fire’s spread.

Rainbow Conservation Camp #2 and Puerta La Cruz Conservation Camp #14 each dispatched two strike teams on Sept. 13, the first time all crews from CDCR’s two female camps were dispatched to a fire. They returned to camp on Sept. 23.

While female inmates comprise 10 percent of CDCR’s total firefighter population, about 225 women work the lines each summer. They undergo the same rigorous CAL FIRE training as their male counterparts.

They also work the same jobs on the fire line, and in the off-season participate in numerous community service projects such as weed abatement, hazardous tree removal and filling sandbags during heavy storms.

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