Strong winds and dry conditions are fueling the raging wildfires in southern California. Officials are doing everything they can to battle the wide-ranging inferno.
Some 110,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Schools are closed in at least 15 districts and thousands are without power. More evacuations are underway in the Ojai Valley.
In Ventura County, the Thomas Fire now spans about 150 square miles. A State of Emergency is underway and extra units are being called in to help.
News4Utah caught up with one of the agencies deploying to the fires, Unified Fire Authority. Utah firefighters are leaving their families to help with the fire fight in California. In just the last 24 hours, they got the assignment and already the team is on its way.
As flames continue to destroy southern California, help is on its way from Utah.
“Our guys are ready to go and help our brothers and sisters down there and the citizens,” said Clint Mecham, Salt Lake County Emergency Manager.
It’s called E-MAC: Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Firefighters from Utah helping their counterparts in California.
“Over a hundred folks from Utah, heading down to help out in southern California,” said Mecham. Mecham was just one of the people gathered at the Dillard’s in Provo Thursday morning. A team of 18 left around 8 a.m. They will pick up more Utahns as they drive south to battle the massive fires in California.
“We have been told to expect anything from structure to urban interface wildland fire fighting and the crews going down are equipped to deal with either situation,” said Mecham.
The Utah team will be in California for at least two weeks, but that could change depending on what the fires do next.
“The firefighters live in that ‘what if’ world – and they are used to being able to think on their feet and shift and adapt to the situation they are presented with,” said Mecham.
This is the second visit to California for the E-MAC team in the last few weeks. They sent a team to help fight fires in Northern California back in October.