Governor mobilizes Guard to Refugio Canyon to assist with fire


The 649th Engineer Company was mobilized to assist CalFire on the Gap Fire, its first mission since Governor Arnold Swarzenegger ordered the National Guard to mobilize to assist in fire suppression July 1.


The unit mobilized trained for a week to be prepared for Red Bluff.

“It was amazing that we were able to train that quickly,” said Brent Dawson, staging coordinator.

Thirty-two of the Horizontal Heavy Construction Company National Guardsmen left Anderson in Shasta County the night of July 7 and arrived in Solvang July 9, said Dawson, with a convoy of eight Caterpillars to set up staging at the end of Refugio Road in Solvang. The crew was to cut roads in Refugio Canyon in order to create containment lines for the Gap Fire.


Semi-trailers hauled the Cats to the point where the road was closed to traffic, about four miles off Highway 246.

The National Guard members are from the Chico area.

All but five of our unit, those with administrative duties, are out here,” said Dawson. “Everyone you see here has been to Afghanistan building roads.”