Out-of-state firefighters help California fight wildfires

Multiple states send firefighters, resources

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Eighteen states sent firefighters and resources to California to help fight the Woolsey, Hill and Camp fires.

Texas deployed 200 firefighters and 55 firetrucks to help fight the Woolsey fire. The crews remained in California for about two weeks, until the fire was contained. The state of Oregon deployed 300 firefighters, according to FOX12. The state of Colorado sent the world’s largest firefighting plane, the Global Super Tanker. The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management said 144 firefighters in 42 engines were sent to provide both assistance and needed supplies.

“This is what we train for, work hard for, we’re just out here trying to help and make a positive influence,” Scottsdale Fire Department firefighter Blake Miller said to KGUN9. “I mean, when we got here [the California firefighters] were three to four days on the fire lines without sleep.”

Other states that sent firefighters and resources included Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Tennessee, Missouri and Alaska.

According to Brian Davis, a firefighter and paramedic working at Station 36 in Oak Park, the acquisition of extra manpower and resources is a gradual process.

“Say we put in 100 requests for strike teams, we might only get 25 filled the first night,” Davis said. “But as days go on more and more get filled as departments say, ‘Hey, we can send some more.’”

Station 36 firefighter and engineer William Watson said that neighboring agencies are responsible for helping one another when the need arises.

“The Mutual Aid Agreement is that anybody can send whatever they can, whenever they can,” Watson said. “For example, we are part of a mutual aid system with all of our surrounding agencies. So, if a fire breaks out in Calabasas and they send an ‘immediate need’ request out for a strike team, we can immediately send five engines to them, and vice versa.”

However, there are limits to the number of strike teams and resources a particular department or agency can deploy to help other counties or states.

“If you have multiple fires at the same exact time, you can’t send all your equipment out. An engine has to be here. It doesn’t necessarily have to be [Station] 36’s fire engine, the one we’re on — we could be out somewhere else — but an engine has to be covering this station and this area to provide service to the people who are in this community at all times,” Watson said. “If we don’t have enough engines to provide service to our community and Ventura County, we can’t send anything else out.”

Davis said that the widespread support California has received is not unusual.

“It happens every year. Up at the Camp Fire, or even over the summer at the fire up near Lake Shasta in Redding, I think there [were] even firefighters from New Zealand,” Davis said.

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