Fire crews leave Delaware to help battle wildfires in California

SMYRNA, Delaware (WPVI)– Twenty members of the Delaware Wildfire Crew packed their gear in Smyrna, Delaware, in the Blackbird State Forest, and headed to Northern California to help fight the wildfires there.

The group will be self-contained having packed up all the equipment they will need. They are funded through a combination of federal funds through the US Forest Service and state funds.

“The heat is very tough, we encourage everyone to stay as physically fit as possible. It’s the best mitigating factor we have against the heat,” said Sam Topper, a crew representative.

Crews travel four days across the country to Klamath National Forest, where wildfire has grown to approximately 60,379 acres. The trucks they are in will help get to places fire trucks can’t to fight the McKinney Fire in a national firefight.

“I’m happy to help out as much as I can,” said Justin Sauble of the Delaware Wildfire Crew.

Crews have already fought wildfires in other parts of the country, but what makes this mission particularly challenging is the terrain.

“Extremely steep, extremely rugged terrain that’s very difficult to operate, which is why they call in crews along with the engines to get into those hard-to-reach places,” Topper said.

The call came yesterday and the men are on their way today. Each day could have around 16 hours of work, which is why they carry a canvas bag with them when they work.

“Here I carry only my personal medical supplies, pliers and battery for my phone,” said Eric Brown of the Delaware Wildfire Crew.

The group plans to spend 14 days in California doing various jobs throughout the weeks.

“We’re going to be assisting with what’s called line work, where we’re cutting some lines and trenches just to stop the fire from spreading that way,” Brown said.

The group plans to be back in Delaware in 22 days. They say crews come here from across the country when we need help during spring and fall, Delaware’s wildfire season.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved. Fire crews leave Delaware to help battle wildfires in California

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