A team of eight Lowcountry officials has deployed to California for a week to help more than a thousand firefighters battling a vicious wildfire in San Bernardino County.

Local firefighters and emergency preparedness employees will have management roles in a fire about 90 miles east of Los Angeles in Oak Glen. The 1,013-acre fire is chewing through the community in the rolling hills below the San Bernardino Mountains.

Nearly 1,200 firefighters are battling the blaze, and as the Lowcountry team was on a flight headed west Tuesday afternoon, the fire was about 40-percent contained. Officials estimated it could take two weeks to stop the Oak Glen fire and the others flaming across the foothills during this wildfire season.

The Lowcountry Incident Management Team members, part of a year-old group designed to respond to disasters, won't be fighting fires but will assist with managing firefighters and will gain experience they can bring back to South Carolina.

"That's what this team is designed for," said Peter Rogers, public information officer for the Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad and spokesman for the group. "It's a great opportunity for this team."

Team members deployed to California include:

• Project Officer Christine Cagle, Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division

• Communications Coordinator Ron Arroyo, Dorchester County Emergency Management Division

• Safety Director Rick Dangerfield, Charleston Naval Weapons Station

• Capt. Clay Lucas, Jasper County Fire Rescue

• Capt. Billy Bryant Jr., Summerville Fire Rescue

• Engineer Tony Failla, Summerville Fire Rescue

• Capt. Richard Waring IV, Charleston Fire Department

• Deputy Chief Ken Fischer, St. Andrews Fire Department


Progress seen in big LA wildfire battle, published 9/2/2009