Firefighting mars the earth. California crews are fixing it

Firefighting mars the earth. California crews are fixing it
In this Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 photo, Jack Hattendorf steers a road grader to repair a dirt path near Lakeport, Calif. Even as flames continue chewing through forestland nearby, Hattendorf and others are working to repair the damage wrought not by flames but by firefighters trying to stop them. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

LAKEPORT, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters are battling the largest wildfire on record in California as foresters and other experts are working to repair the damage.

Crews doing “suppression repair” mitigate the damage caused not by flames but by the firefighters racing to extinguish them.

They seek to restore private lands, protect the environment and water supply, and prevent erosion that can lead to mudslides like the one that tore through a Santa Barbara-area community in January, killing nearly two dozen people.

It’s a massive but often overlooked part of firefighting.

One day last week, dozens of pieces of heavy equipment did repairs at the Mendocino Complex Fire that has charred more than 550 square miles (1,425 square kilometers), an area nearly twice the size of New York City.