FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – From Fort Worth to the front lines: a local firefighter describes the work at California’s largest wildfire.

“Most of the fire we have not even seen,” said Fort Worth Fire Department Captain Cody Stillwell.

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Stillwell and seven other firefighters are part of the Strike 139 team helping battle the August Complex fire in Northern California.

“There are firefighters here from all over the world – all over the country, Canada.”

He says they work in 24-hour shifts, starting at 7:00 a.m. The shifts are long because it takes so long to reach their work site.

Fort Worth firefighter team helping battle Northern California wildfire (credit: FWFD Instagram).

“[You] can’t drive trucks everywhere because it’s up in the mountains, so it’s a lot of hiking to be done, and carrying hose and laying that out. We’ve done just miles and miles of hose laying,” said Stillwell.

After a full day and night on the front lines, they return to base camp and prepare the equipment for the next shift. Only then do they take a break.

“We find time to sleep and rest when we can,” he said.

It’s back-breaking work, but Stillwell said he’s learning tools to bring home.

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“Fort Worth is still expanding. The city’s moving west and getting into some different terrain, so being able to utilize some of this back home would be tremendous.”

He’s also picked up tips about managing a massive fire and improving communication between multiple departments.

And while he’s focused on helping the people of California safely return to their homes, he’s also looking forward to returning to North Texas.

“If we’re on a fire at home, usually we’re home by the next day, so being away from home makes it a little tougher.”

Fort Worth firefighter team helping battle Northern California wildfire (credit: FWFD Instagram).

The Strike 139 team arrived in California on September 12, along with crews from Flower Mound, Arlington and other area departments.

You can follow FWFD’s travels on their Instagram page.


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