North Texas Firefighters Join California Crews Battling Wildfires

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Firefighters from several states, including Texas, are arriving in California to help crews battle wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed at least six people.

A group of four McKinney Fire Department firefighters is among those offering assistance as part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System.

The McKinney group left Saturday morning with a brush truck. They expect to arrive in Northern California late Sunday to help relieve weary crews battling the SCU Lightning Complex Fire.

“They’re starting to get tired, worn out, they are still putting out a lot of fires and their resources are getting tight,” McKinney firefighter Quincy Blount said.

Blount explained the crew from McKinney has enough gear to camp out on the fire lines, if necessary. Their deployment is expected to last 14-21 days.

With more than 560 wildfires now burning, California fire crews are stretched to their limits.

“This is what we signed up to do and this is what we enjoy doing,” firefighter Mike Roberts said. “This is our passion, being able to go out there and being able to help people losing their homes.”

In Northern California, high winds were in the forecast for late Sunday and Monday along with continued lightning.

Lightning with little rain sparked huge fires around the state. Nearly 250,000 people have been warned to evacuate.

“To me, it’s like, 'How can you not go help?'” Roberts said.

The deployment comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and a hurricane may hit the Texas coast this week.

Firefighters said the rest of their department is stepping in to help fill shifts for the firefighters who agreed to travel to California.

At least five deaths are now being attributed to the dozens of massive wildfires, fueled by high winds and sweltering temperatures, burning across California.

The four firefighters’ families are also bracing for the deployment.

“Unfortunately, I will be missing my daughter’s birthday due to this deployment,” firefighter Chris Waller said. “She was on board just letting daddy go to help everybody out."

Blount said his daughter told him she didn’t want him to go but understood why he should.

“She made the comment that if it’s happening here, we know they would come help us,” Blount said. “She’s 7 years old.”

“Our families are truly the ones that I think are the true heroes in something like this,” Blount added. “Our spouses have to step up and take care of everything while we’re gone.”

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