HOUSTON - Teams from Baytown, Conroe, Eastex, Forest Bend, Fulshear-Simonton, Galveston, Needham, New Waverly, Porter, Webster and Willis left the Buc-ee's in Katy Monday morning.
The firefighters will be in California for the next 20 days to help contain the Woolsey fire in California.
"We promised them if they needed us to call us and we would come,” said Carter Johnson, fire chief of the Montgomery County Porter Fire Department. “We understand that this is now the most deadly fire in California’s history and the structural loss is just amazing.”
Crews expect to get to California Tuesday night, and they will get their first assignment Wednesday morning.
"It looks like right now we're going to be assigned to do structural protections in the neighborhoods where the fire is headed to or has already gone through,” says Patrick Shipp, fire chief of the Webster Fire Department. “It takes a unique person who wants to go out and be gone those many days away from their family away from their loved ones.”
Hundreds of other firefighters and support personnel from across Texas are being deployed to help fight the deadly wildfires currently devastating California, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday.
Abbott announced that 200 firefighters with more than 50 fire engines from 47 fire departments across 23 counties in Texas, as well as teams from the Texas Forest Service at Texas A&M, will be deployed starting Monday morning.
"When the call came into Texas this summer to aid our California neighbors, Texas A&M Forest Service and TIFMAS were able to render aid. Nearly 100 Texas firefighters were of service. This is what mutual aid is all about and, here in Texas, we do it well so California asked the Texans to come back and help out again," Tom Boggus, Texas A&M Forest Service director, said.
A total of 27 Texas A&M Forest Service personnel, a strike team and five fire engines from Brownwood, Childress, Smithville, Mineral Wells and Wolforth left Monday, according to TFS.
Abbott said it was imperative that Texans help other firefighters combat the wildfires in California.
“When disaster strikes, it is imperative that the call for help is answered, and that is exactly what these men and women serving in fire departments across Texas are doing,” Abbott said. “As California continues to fight these fires, Texas will be sending its bravest firefighters to aid in their efforts. Our prayers go out to all who have been impacted by these devastating wildfires, and the state of Texas will continue to offer any resources to aid in the recovery process.”
The crews will be away from their families this Thanksgiving holiday.
So far, 31 people have been officially declared dead, and 228 are still missing in Northern California. DNA experts have been called in to help identify the victims.
Authorities are expecting that number to rise as officials search the charred remains.
The fire in the town of Paradise has devastated the area leaving thousands of homes destroyed, and in Southern California at least 177 homes have already burned.
Fire officials are also expecting that number to rise.
Below is the list of Texas fire departments that are sending help to California provided by Abbott's office:
- Bexar County ESD 8
- Bexar County District 7
- Fort Worth
- Lake Travis
- New Waverly
- Oak Hill
- Parker County ESD 1
- Powderly VFD
- Round Rock
- San Angelo
- San Antonio
- Sommervell County
- Wichita Falls
- Willis ESD 1
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