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Texans Head To California’s Fires

Texas firefighters head to California again to help fight deadly wildfires.

Some 200 firefighters in 50 engines from 47 Texas fire departments in 23 counties will head to California to help fight three major wildfires that have taken at least 29 lives, destroyed more than 6,700 structures and prompted evacuations for about 250,000 Californians.

“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. It 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,” said Tom Boggus, Texas A&M Forest Service director.

On Saturday, California emergency officials contacted the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TEDM) who then called Texas A&M Forest Service to request help via the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) program. TIFMAS is the fire and rescue framework that provides wildfire incident support. Texas A&M Forest Service helps coordinate wildland fire suppression efforts throughout Texas with local fire departments.

“This is another solid example of Texas firefighters stepping up to help out. This is the largest mobilization of Texas firefighting resources to another state to fight wildland fires,” said Mark Stanford, fire chief and associate director at Texas A&M Forest Service. “TFS will send five engines, but a majority of the personnel and engines are coming from municipal fire departments all across Texas.”

Texas counties that are mobilizing resources include Bexar, Brazos, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Harris, Hays, Hutchinson, Lamar, Montgomery, Parker, Potter, Somervell, Tarrant, Taylor, Tom Green, Travis, Walker, Wichita, and Williamson.

Nacogdoches Fire Chief Keith Kiplinger, who is also the TIFMAS state coordinator, said that these out-of-state assignments allow municipal firefighters to gain valuable experience that may not occur in their daily firefighting duties.

“The training and experience that our firefighters receive will better enable us to serve Texans at home,” said Kiplinger. “We are rotating these assignments among various departments around the state to give as many firefighters additional experience.”

A total of 27 Texas A&M Forest Service personnel, a strike team, and five additional fire engines from Brownwood, Childress, Smithville, Mineral Wells, and Wolforth left today. It makes a total of 55 Texas fire engines. Fire departments that are mobilizing personnel and engines include:

Abilene Fire Department
Amarillo Fire Department
Austin Fire Department
Baytown Fire Department
Bexar County D-7
Bexar County ESD-8 (Grey Forest)
Borger Fire Department
Bryan Fire Department
City of Galveston Fire Department
City of Midland Fire Department
Conroe Fire Department
Dallas Fire & Rescue
District 7 Fire Rescue
Eastex Fire Department
Flower Mound Fire Department
Forest Bend Fire Department
Frisco Fire Department
Fulshear Fire Department
Kyle Fire Department
Lake Travis Fire Rescue
Lewisville Fire Department
Little Elm Fire Department
Longview Fire Department
McKinney Fire Department
Needham Fire Department
New Waverly Volunteer Fire Department
North Montgomery County ESD-1
Oak Hill Fire Department
Paris Fire Department
Parker County ESD-6
Plano Fire Rescue
Porter Fire Department
Powderly Volunteer Fire Department
Prosper Fire Department
Round Rock Fire Department
San Angelo Fire Department
Schertz Fire Rescue
Somervell Fire Department
Travis County ESD-3
Weatherford Fire Department
Webster Fire Department
Westlake Fire Department
Wichita Falls Volunteer Fire Department

TIFMAS and TFS firefighters are not yet explicitly assigned to a location in California. They will be among thousands of personnel assisting with the following incidents:

The 113,000-acre Camp Fire in Butte County that caused 29 fatalities destroyed 6,453 residences and 260 commercial structures. It is approximately 25 percent contained. The 91,572-acre Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties that caused two fatalities, three firefighter injuries and destroyed 372 structures. It is approximately 20 percent contained. The 4,531-acre Hill Fire in Ventura County that destroyed two structures and is approximately 80 percent contained.

“Our thoughts and prayers go with our Texan firefighters,” said Boggus. “We are also thinking of our California neighbors and the tremendous losses they are currently dealing with in Los Angeles, Ventura and Butte Counties.”

The Paris Fire Department deployed Captain Matt Barbee and Firefighter Corey Parks Monday morning to assist with the California Wild Fires. They will be part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System. Driver Michael Fox, from the Paris area, workes with the Allen Fire Department is also part of this group. Lamar County Emergency Management Coordinator Quincy Blount, representing McKinney, was also deployed. This deployment will last up to 14 days.