The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management received orders to send 25 engines and five task force leaders, for a total of 125 firefighters, to California.
The firefighters will preposition once they arrive in California and then will be assigned to wherever they are most needed. All the Arizona crews will be used as strike teams. Strike teams are in high demand now, since most wildland firefighters are seasonal and likely have already been laid off for the winter.
Strike teams can assist in multiple ways, by working the front lines of the fire, by acting as relief to firefighters that have been on the fire since day one, and as structure protection.
There are multiple fires burning in Southern California. The Thomas Fire, the biggest of all the fires, started Monday evening and has quickly grown to more than 50,000 acres fanned by flames and very dry conditions.
It’s not uncommon for us to assist our neighboring states when called upon. What is uncommon, is that it is December.
“It’s hard to fathom the amount of devastation that California has seen over the last few months. We will always be ready to assist our neighbors when needed. We are praying for California and all of the firefighters and first responders who are working so hard to protect those affected communities,” said Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney.