Galveston, Porter firefighters head to California to battle blazes

Nearly 100 Texas firefighters head to West Coast

HOUSTON – Nearly 100 firefighters from across Texas are heading to California to help battle raging wildfires.

The Texas A&M Forest Service on Tuesday announced personnel from more than two dozen fire departments are flying to California or taking part in a convoy with at least 25 fire engines. Texas firefighters are expected to report for duty Thursday.

On Wednesday, firefighters from Galveston, Porter, Baytown, Webster and Willis boarded flights from Hobby Airport to Northern California.

“This is the first time that we’ve ever been out of the state to assist another state with an assignment pretty much. Pretty much going over there to make a difference,” said Brandon Shafer, of the Porter Fire Department.

Twin fires in Northern California have scorched an area nearly the size of Los Angeles.

The Houston-area firefighters said they have never fought wildfires the magnitude of the ones they’re heading to in California. Still, they were eager to go and said their training has prepared them for the big task and long hours ahead.

“It’s hard," said Bryan Lee with the Galveston Fire Department. "I’ve got two small kids that are home. So, my wife is a trooper. She’s the real hero. She lets me go for 14 days not knowing what I’m getting into, so she is the real trooper.”

The deployment is an activation of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System even as the state is in its own wildfires season. Texas A&M Forest Service director Tom Boggus said it's "about neighbors helping neighbors."

Fire departments from Abilene, Austin, College Station, Dallas, Galveston, Lubbock and Wichita Falls are also among those dispatching personnel to California.