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National guard troops arrive at Camp Roberts for intensive wildfire training

Dennis Lee, ODF

Roughly 240 members of the California National Guard arrived at Camp Roberts Monday to being four days of intensive training on line-crew firefighting.

The guard supports the state's fire suppression efforts on an annual basis but not since 2007 has the need been great enough to warrant this level of training, said Captain Kara Siepmann.

"So that's about two days of classroom and two days in the field wearing their full protective equipment that Cal Fire issues them, and then they're ready to be deployed should the fire spark large enough to need them," said Siepmann.

As of Monday afternoon, Cal Fire showed nearly a dozen major wildfires burning in the northern half of the state, many started by lightning. Cooler temperatures and rain could help fire crews this week, but more lightning is in the forecast as well.

Crews from regional Cal Fire stations in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey Counties are also providing support for the statewide effort.