Smokejumpers Mop Up Potato Fire on Santa Cruz Island

Smokejumpers from the U.S. Forest Service prepare to deploy.
Courtesy Photo

Working overnight Monday, four U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers — three out of Redding and one from Alaska — are now mopping up the Potato Fire on Santa Cruz Island, inland from Potato Harbor. A lightning strike likely started the blaze during the early morning hours of September 11; it was first reported by a boater at 9:10 a.m. Dispatched from Porterville, CA, and equipped with hand tools and survival gear, the smokejumpers parachuted from a fixed-wing aircraft at 1:10 p.m. The fire did not threaten structures or campgrounds and was confined to an area of about one-tenth of an acre.

This is the first time smokejumpers have battled a fire at Channel Islands National Park, according to a statement from the National Park Service. Superintendent Russell Galipeau added, “We greatly appreciate the rapid response by the U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers to suppress this remote island fire in its early phases, especially given the many wildfires currently burning in the West.”

Santa Cruz Island's Potato Fire as seen from the jumpship