North Texas firefighters headed to California to help with wildfires

- North Texas firefighters are headed to the West Coast to help out with the deadly wildfires. They will join 3,300 firefighters already on the front lines in Southern California.

The state of Texas is sending about 200 firefighters to California, including 17 from Dallas, five from Fort Worth, three from Lewisville and several more from Irving. About 30 firefighters from Frisco, McKinney, Prosper and Plano will also head that way to help.

Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman Mike Drivdahl said the five firefighters from Fort Worth will head west with a brush truck.

“At this time, the five we are sending are specially trained in wildland firefighting and we consider them some of the best of the best,” he said. “All of our firefighters are trained to a degree in wildland firefighter but these have gone extra steps to really become experts in that.”

The training is critical because the terrain in California is very different from Texas. It’s important to send the firefighters who are going to do the best job.

“Out here we have such lighter fuels and we have tall grass. Out in California, it is rugged terrain with heavier fuels, large trees and brush that is dense. So it is a little bit different than it is out here,” Drivdahl said. “So, we’re sending specially trained firefighters out there to really help with that effort.”

The group plans to head to Ventura County, but that could change as they get closer. If new fires pop up, they could be redirected. They’ll be in California for about two weeks. Other firefighters will be on standby and could be rotated in if needed.

“Typically we go for two week deployments and if we need to rotate them out we can rotate them out in two weeks. They’re gonna get here and pack up our brush truck and the tools they are going to need to take with them, say goodbye to their families and be gone for two weeks,” Drivdahl said.

It’s the first time the Fort Worth Fire Department has sent firefighters to help with fires out of the state.

“It is such a brotherhood and sisterhood with the fire department. We want to help them. We know that they’ve been fighting this fire for a long time now and they are tired. And we do get the reciprocal help in the end,” Drivdahl added. “With Harvey, we had people coming from all over the country to help us. So, it’s a team and whatever we can do to help we are going to.”

The deployment could last up to 14 days, meaning they may miss Thanksgiving with their families.

“It’s just how committed our guys are,” said Dallas Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Justin Hood. “They came through. We didn’t have a problem filling this team.”

Those who are making the trip are specially trained. But there’s still concern about the different landscape and menacing Santa Anna winds.

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