GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The Grand Junction Fire Department is answering the call to action from fire officials in California.
Four firefighters and one engine are being deployed to Chino Hills in Los Angeles where three major wildfires continue to burn in the surrounding area.
State fire officials in California are seeking help all across the country, which is why the GJFD is rising to the call.
"Last night, we received a request from California to send a Type-3 engine along with a four-person crew", says Ellis Thompson-Ellis the Public Information Officer for the GJFD.
These four firefighters hit the road Wednesday morning to help aid other firefighters succeed in controlling the Creek, Thomas, and Rye wildfires.
"This morning, we sent Ct. Josh Evans, engineer Wes Engbarth, along with firefighters Tyler Glassman and Ryan Leonard", says Thompson-Ellis.
The team is equipped and trained for situations like this including 20 other fire officials with the GJFD.
"Right now, our crew is headed to a mobilization center. They really have no idea what their assignment is going to be, and so they have to pack and prepare for anything. That means they're taking structural firefighting gear, wild-land firefighting gear, along with tents and sleeping pads in case they're in a rugged situation", says Thompson-Ellis.
Since California's climate varies much differently from Colorado's, fire officials with the GJFD are expecting the unexpected so that they can react properly.
"The major factors in those are burn-time in the day. It's winter right now so that burn time is a little bit shorter in the summer, so that's favorable, but the second factor is the winds. Particularly in California, we're looking at the Santa Anna winds which are pretty consistent so crews there is kind of waiting for the right time to be able to fight that fire and proactively engage it", says Thompson-Ellis.
The experience gained from extinguishing these wildfires in different regions means our firefighters with the GJFD will be more well-rounded when battling something similar here in Colorado.
"So, as you look around Grand Junction right now, it's been a while since we had snow or rain. We have a lot of dry, dead foliage right up against residential neighborhoods so here locally we do have a big wildfire risk and by sending our team to California they're able to bring that experience and expertise back to our community should we ever have an event like that", says Thompson-Ellis.
These four firefighters deployed by the GJFD are expected to return in two weeks assuming California fire officials can contain these three major wildfires.
We'll keep you posted on how our fire crew is doing as more details become available.