North Texas fire departments sending help to battle California wildfires

Several North Texas fire departments are sending crews and trucks to California to help battle more than a dozen wildfires, including the largest in the state’s history.

Crews from all over Texas will join tens of thousands of firefighters desperately trying to get the fires under control. The Mendocino Complex Fire is 100 miles north of San Francisco. In 11 days, it has exploded in size to more than 450 square miles.

It’s only the latest in a series of destructive fires that could make 2018 the worst fire season ever in California. About 14,000 firefighters are battling outbreaks across the state, and help is being called in from Texas.

The Frisco Fire Department is sending a brush truck to California on Tuesday, and four firefighters will leave on Wednesday.

The firefighters are part of the Texas Mutual Interstate Fire Mutual System, which is made up of fire departments from around the state.

California asked for the help. In total, Texas is sending more than 90 firefighters and 25 fire trucks to answer the call. 

Dallas Fire-Rescue is one of several North Texas fire departments being deployed to California as part of a strike team mobilized by the state.

“This a whole different ball game that we're getting into,” said DFR Battalion Chief Scott Pacot. “And we're going to be prepared for everything.”

Dallas Fire-Rescue is sending a dozen firefighters and brush trucks loaded with specialized gear. The fire trucks will include apparatuses from departments like Lewisville, Little Elm and Frisco. They are being transported on flatbed trucks to California.

The firefighters, including four from Frisco, are flying to the West Coast and will be ready to go Thursday morning.

“It's more hilly,” said Frisco Battalion Fire Chief Shannon Brinton. “The fuel loads are different meaning. The trees and underbrush are certainly different then what we've seen here.”

But the firefighters are eager to help.

Further south, Round Rock is also sending crews to help out in various roles.

“They could be on the fire lines themselves. They could be just going doing some mop up, catching some hot spots so we don’t have to worry about reignition,” said Round Rock Assistant Fire Chief Shane Glaiser. “None of us will know until we actually get on the scene.”

The departments say the efforts to help California will not delay or take away from local resources or responses for North Texas.

The firefighters will be sleeping in tents while they're in California. They're scheduled to be gone for up to 14 days.

If their services are still needed, other firefighters from Texas could be sent on a rotating basis.

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