DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – North Texas fire departments are answering the call to help crews in California fight the devastating wildfires there.
Sixty-four DFW-area firefighters boarded a plane Tuesday morning bound for California, unsure of exactly what they’ll find when they arrive.
“It’s a completely different animal dealing with wildland fires versus the urban setting,” said Capt. David Knox of Fort Worth Fire.
That’s something Frisco Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Mills experienced first-hand. He returned Sunday from California, where he acted as a liaison to crews in the field.
“The fires are moving hot and fast,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of safety concerns while they’re out there. But the firefighters are well-trained and they’ll keep their heads on a swivel and maintain safety.”
Deputy Chief Mills coordinates wildland deployment for 32 North Texas counties.
“It’s always difficult to ask anybody to leave their family for 14 days, but I think as firefighters we understand the mission,” he said.
“My 9-year-old daughter, she made it tough,” said Capt. Aaron Munn of Athens Fire, “It’s tough to leave, but it’s important.”
The firefighters are working 24 hour shifts in grueling conditions. But there are bright spots, Mills said: the gratitude from Californians and the feeling of helping a neighbor.
“The state of Texas is glad to lend a helping hand in their time of need, and we hope and have seen in the past when we needed help, they would do the same,” Mills said.
Around 64 firefighters will return home to North Texas Tuesday night after a two-week deployment.
Southwest Airlines provided two free charter flights for the crews both leaving and returning today.