By Scott Schwebke The Orange County Register
VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. — Exhausted and a bit overwhelmed, Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Stan Ziegler said his spirits were lifted Friday as he drove through Thousand Oaks.
Ziegler, who had been operating on only six hours of sleep since Wednesday night’s deadly mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill and the subsequent Hill and Woolsey wildfires that broke out Thursday, spotted a San Diego emergency vehicle rolling by.
He felt immediate gratification and relief.
“It’s like when you have a big brother who you want to do something for you,” said Ziegler, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. “We have brothers and sisters up and down the state.”
The Ventura County Fire Department has requested assistance from about 500 firefighters from Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Diego counties and other localities to battle the wind-driven Hill and Woolsey fires.
Reinforcements began arriving with equipment Thursday afternoon and continued filtering in throughout Friday, he said. It’s unknown how long they’ll stay.
“Firefighters are a unique breed,” said Ziegler, who serves as the Fire Department’s public information officer. “When faced with big problems, we like to dig in and take care of it. But when we need to rest, we activate our mutual-aid (plan) and ask for help.”
The overwhelming mutual-aid support in beleaguered Ventura County hasn’t been limited solely to wildfires over the past week.
More than 150 emergency personnel and law officers converged Wednesday night on the Borderline Bar and Grill to assist the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, said Ziegler, one of the initial first responders at the shooting in Thousand Oaks.
“We worked together to accomplish what we needed to accomplish,” he said, adding that the California Highway Patrol, Ventura Police Department, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were among the agencies that responded.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department officials could not be reached for comment regarding the response.
California Highway Patrol Officer Dan Ralph said the agency is proud to have stood shoulder-to shoulder with the Sheriff’s Department and is providing traffic control for the Hill and Woolsey fires.
“Whenever there is any incident the Highway Patrol is more than willing to give assistance,” he said.