There are more than 100 Idaho firefighters from the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other area agencies helping with the wildland fire suppression in California..

The Thomas Fire is more than 270,000 acres. It has destroyed nearly 800 homes - and 18,000 are still threatened.

KTVB spoke with members of a crew from Twin Falls District BLM working on the Thomas Fire. They've been there since December 8. James Sparrow is an engine captain for the crew and has been a wildland firefighter for 26 years.

"I was not expecting a fire this big," he said.

Especially this time of year. Because it's December, preparing to go to California was a challenge.

"We had a lot of our trucks winterized for the winter and we just had to get them out and outfit them with the gear and make sure that the pumps ran," Sparrow said.

Getting crews together was another challenge. December isn't typically considered fire season here in Idaho. So many of the wildland firefighters aren't available because they're seasonal employees.

"It was challenging to find the crew members," Sparrow said. "They just work seasonal for the BLM, a lot of kids go back to school and stuff. It took a day to round up a five-person crew to come down here."

MORE: Boise firefighters expected to return from SoCal before Christmas

While Sparrow wasn't expecting a fire this big this time of year, he said conditions in California are perfect for fueling fires - like high winds and dry land.

The crew has contributed to the fire suppression in various ways, but most of their work is protecting homes.

"We try to mitigate some of the hazards to the homes. We talk to the homeowners and tell them what we're doing and if there's little things that they can do.," Sparrow said. "They're very grateful."

Even though they've been gone on the two-week long assignment, they said they love what they do.

""We're just grateful to be here to help out," Sparrow said. "Hopefully many folks can have a happy holiday season."

The Thomas Fire is 45 percent contained and expected to be fully contained by January 7. The Twin Falls crew is scheduled to return Saturday.