San Antonio – Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System firefighters have volunteered to help with the wildfires in California.
Schertz Fire Chief Kade Long is coordinating crews at the Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forrest. He said 17 firefighters are from the Bexar County area.
In all, 240 Texan firefighters are taking part of the effort through the mutual aid system.
A few crews have also been sent to the August Fire in northern California. The scene from the ground is just as devastating as the pictures show, Long said.
“The whole area around us is just smoky. You can just see little particles of ash floating through the air and stuff. And so while the sun’s out, you can’t really see it because there’s so much smoke,” Long explained.
Logan Godfrey, William Bourland and Brandon Reck with Bexar County Fire District 7 just returned from their deployment. They helped with the CSU Lightning Complex Fire, Oak Fire and August Fire.
“Before you were even in that direct fire area, you can smell it and you can see the effects of it,” Reck said.
Their jobs out there included coordinating controlled burns, protecting populated housing areas from the fire and cutting down lines with bulldozers. They also ran thousands of feet of hose around the mountains.
“We would patrol the fire line on 24-hour shifts and kind of knock out any threats that were around,” Bourland said.
Now, the crews in California include members with the Schertz Fire Department, Canyon Lake Fire, Bexar County ESD 8,12,7,10, Bexar County Fire 7, and San Antonio Fire.
Volunteers said they wanted to help those in need, but also learn how to help Texans in the future.
“It’s a twofold situation. We get to help people out. And we also get to learn a lot about the wild land firefighting, as well as a wildland urban interface,” Godfrey said.
Crews deployed now will return in roughly three weeks.
This week, one firefighter died in the fires. Authorities in California said 26 firefighters have died so far fighting multiple fires that have overcome the state.