Crews Fighting California’s Raging Wildfires Will Soon Get A Colorado Assist

October 29, 2019
APTOPIX California WildfiresAPTOPIX California WildfiresRingo H.W. Chiu/AP
Los Angeles County Firefighter Collin Bashara takes rest with his fire truck in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019.

Fire crews in California are fighting to drown, slash and smother wildfires that have incinerated dozens of homes in both the northern and southern parts of the state before returning windstorms can blow them back into furious life.

And help is on the way from Colorado.

State crews are driving 28 engines to help battle the flames in and around Los Angeles and outside of San Francisco. Firefighters got the call through what's known as the Resource Ordering Status System. It's a site where communities list what equipment they have available and officials, like in California, can put in requests for what they need.

Phillip Daniels, the deputy chief of wildfire management for the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, said the current request is for number 3 and number 6 engines. Both are off-road capable trucks that are "specific for wild and urban interface," he said.

Each engine has a crew of at least three and up to five. Daniels expects the state will be asked to send additional, larger equipment too.

"Firetrucks don't drive like, you know, the family sedan," he said. "If you average 50 miles an hour, you're moving along quite rapidly."

If the road trip is grueling, it's nothing compared to the work at the fire. Daniels said firefighters will work 16-hour shifts and likely sleep on the ground in tents. They can expect to be there at least 14 days and maybe longer.

California will be tapped to pay for the Colorado crews, using state and federal funds. Once the fires are out, the Division of Fire Prevention and Control gets details for each fire district about the time and costs their crews incurred and will send invoices. Firefighters are paid at the rate they receive in their home district and get massive amounts of overtime pay in working fires like this.

Colorado’s snowy weather makes it a good time to help out elsewhere since wildfire danger has passed for now.

"It's very lucky I suppose, we're shoveling snow here (so) we can be out there assisting them," Daniels said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.