Idaho sending firefighters down to Southern California

The crews will be in California for two weeks.

Fire and rescue teams from around the country, including Idaho are joining the fight to stop wildfires moving across Southern California.

Fire crews from Boise, Meridian, Kuna, and Star left Thursday morning for California to help provide assistance in any way they can.

“It's easy for us as a crew to go down. It kinda pulls at your heart strings to see all the havoc running and all the carnage going on down there,” Captain T.J. Lawrence with the Kuna Fire Department said.

Destruction those 17 firefighters will soon see firsthand.

“It definitely brings it home when you know there’s people down there that are looking for other people to come help because it's such a big fire, and such a big devastating fire right now, and the end isn't in sight just yet,” Captain Brian Ashton with the Boise Fire Department said.

Idaho was contacted by California on Wednesday to see if the state had any available resources to come help. It’s all a part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. A nationwide agreement among all 50 states to share their resources with one another during natural and man-made disasters.

“The goal nationwide, post 9/11, is to become more like one big department and so as time goes on, the states are getting better with reaching out to other states to get assistance when they have an issue like this," Capt. Ashton said.

Although, this may not be the first time Boise Fire has sent some of its firefighters away to help, Ashton says this is the largest he’s seen in his nearly 30 years of service.

“It gives me a big sense of pride, pride in a lot of things," Ashton said. "Number one in that we've finally been able to go down there and help because every fall we see all the houses destroyed down there and they deal with this fire problem all the time. So, finally an opportunity to get people mobilized and get down there and go help out.”

All 17 firefighters are volunteer based and will spend the next two weeks in Southern California fighting fires. Captain Ashton says if more resources from Idaho are needed after 14 days, they can leave the fire engines in California and fly more firefighters down.

"I can just imagine how it would be to receive the assistance from Cal Fire, Oregon, Washington, if we were in a time of need,” Capt. Lawrence said. “It's a very overwhelming, need for us to go help, you know, to make sure everyone can stay as safe as they can and save as much property and lives as possible."

All to help provide a little bit of relief to those thousands of people being impacted by raging wildfires.

“It's really nice to be a part of this fire service,” Lawrence said. “It feels like we're doing something good representing Idaho going down there and helping California."

Fire crews from Sand Hollow Fire District, along with Parma and Emmett fire departments, are also traveling down to California to provide resources and assistance.

This is a contract California has with Idaho fire crews, which means California is paying for those crews to come help.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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