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Blue Lives Matter Is the Wildfire Cavalry No One Asked For

As wildfires rage worse than ever across California, firefighters have pleaded with locals not to battle the blazes on their own. Now they might have a new worry during a year of violent unrest across America: unsanctioned fire rescue efforts organized by hyper-partisan Facebook groups comprised at least in part of Blue Lives Matter-style vigilantes.Defend East County, a 20,000-person Facebook group that organized in opposition to Black Lives Matter protests near San Diego, has begun fire rescue missions, especially for animals, according to recent posts by members in the group. On their face, fire rescue campaigns may sound like an unambiguous good—the Valley Fire in the area had claimed some 17,000 acres and dozens of buildings by Tuesday afternoon. But state and local officials say amateur efforts can impede professional firefighters. Add in a group involved in multiple recent violent confrontations, and the situation can turn potentially explosive.“If you’re not trained in firefighting, it’s dangerous to you, because you do not have the communications, and you may not have the tools, the knowledge, on how to do what you want to do,” Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokesperson for Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency, told The Daily Beast. “You can potentially put actual firefighters’ lives at risk if you get yourself injured or trapped, or need rescue of some sort.”Nevertheless, administrators in the group Defend East County (DEC) have posted about multiple fire rescue efforts in the county, including establishing a physical “command post” from which they would launch animal rescue efforts. (Some of the posts were archived by an anti-DEC Twitter account.) The group has also posted pictures, apparently of members organizing on multiple occasions for fire rescue efforts in recent days.Justin Haskins, the group’s founder, told The Daily Beast that the DEC had been out with hundreds of members relocating livestock and locals since Saturday. “The level of experience for people varies. We have inexperienced people, we have experienced people, and everybody in between,” he said.But East County locals might know the D
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