MISSOULA – More than 20 fire engines and over 100 Montana firefighters are stepping up to help combat the fires that are devastating California.
Two trucks and six Missoula Rural Fire District firefighters left Sunday morning to join the effort. Captain Ron Lubke says they are happy to be able to help.
“We have had a number of times where apparatuses equipment and personnel from California have come to Montana to help with our fire season.,” Lubke said.
“And I should say not just wildland fires. It could be anything — hurricanes, natural disasters. These kind of resources are shared often all over the place all over the country,” he added.
The crew and equipment from MRFD are headed to the Woolsey fire raging in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Crews also spent the weekend moving equipment around to make sure each crew still had the supplies they need. Lubke said though they are always willing to help out another department, Missoula comes first.
“We would not go if you weren’t able to still maintain our responsibilities here. And so we look at that very thoroughly before we make the commitment send folks to any out of state fire or incident,” he said.
Crews from Big Sky, Bull Lake, Columbus and Red Lodge are also hit the road to California over the weekend.
Three fire trucks from Columbus and Red Lodge hit the road Sunday morning.
Fire Chief Rich Cowger of the Columbus rural fire district said it is only natural for them to send help south.
“That’s what we do. As a fire service in particular. We’re having a conference down here where we talk about how we are family. It’s what we do and what our mission statements are,” Cowger said. “Protecting the citizens that we serve. Those folks in California, are having the ultimate of bad days, and in fact they have had the ultimate of bad days for quite some time now. I think for our department alone this is our third deployment down to California. That’s the main concern. That’s why they are going down there, not only to for them to stay safe. But to help other folks that are down there. Those firefighters are overworked and overwhelmed. That’s part of the purpose is to keep those guys safe.”
Reporting by Zoe Zandora and Lauren Heiser for MTN News