Montana firefighters called up for California fires

Fifty-four Montana wildland firefighters and 16 wildland engines are headed to California to assist in firefighting efforts.

The state of Montana received a request from the California Office of Emergency Services this week to provide critically needed firefighting resources to support the firefighting effort in southern California. Gov. Steve Bullock authorized support for California, charging the Montana Disaster and Emergency Division with the task of recruiting local firefighting teams.

“We are working with our partners in California to ensure that Montana can provide any and all needed resources we can,” stated Delila Bruno, MT DES administrator.  “In Montana, we often have to request resources from California to assist us during our fire season. This is Montana being a good neighbor”

California requested 50 strike teams of type I, III, V and VI wildland engines from Montana and six other states to fight the fires which started on Dec. 4.  State officials worked closely with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Northern Rockies Coordination Center to begin filling the requests.

MT DES staff worked through the evening to complete the logistics to get the personnel and equipment en-route to California. By Wednesday evening, firefighters and wildland equipment from 14 separate city, county, rural and volunteer fire departments statewide agreed to assist.

The firefighters and equipment were formed into one strike team and two task forces.  The crews and equipment left Montana on Wednesday evening and all day Thursday, headed to California. All crews have arrived and will begin work today or Saturday.

The formal request came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact process which allows for equipment and personnel to be quickly requested and manned for life and property safety between states in times of natural disasters.