Some 98 firefighters from 29 Texas fire departments in 20 counties will head to California this week to fight wildfires that have burned more than 750,000 acres. The deployment is an activation of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) for wildfire suppression in Texas and beyond.
“It’s about neighbors helping neighbors,” said Tom Boggus, Texas A&M Forest Service director. “We call TIFMAS our ‘surge capacity’ for Texas. Guess this time their reach is a bit farther away but we hope to make a big impact in people’s lives.”
Last week, California requested help from Texas A&M Forest Service through TIFMAS, the fire and rescue framework that provides wildfire and all-hazard incident support. Under Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) authorization, Texas will also send 25 fire engines with five strike teams to the 290,692-acre Mendocino Complex, the largest wildfire in California history.
“Nationally, we know that resources are tapped,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Chief Regional Coordinator, Steve Pollock, who is heading up the Texas convoy to California. “We are glad to help out and that TIFMAS firefighters were able to answer the call. The apparatus we are deploying are a mix of small and mid-sized engines used in structure fires.”
California currently has 20 uncontained wildfires. Scorching temperatures and explosive fire conditions have made them difficult to suppress or contain. So far, nine persons have died, thousands have been evacuated and nearly 160 homes have been damaged or destroyed in the Mendocino Complex, comprised of the 241,772-acre Ranch Fire, eight miles northeast of Ukiah and the 48,920-acre River Fire, six miles north of Hopland, California.
Texas remains entrenched in its own wildfire season, so state fire officials here are planning carefully. To date, 6,975 Texas wildfires have been reported burning more than 492,393 acres. Local fire departments participating in the California mutual aid effort include:
Abilene Fire Department, Austin Fire Department, Baytown Fire Department, Borger Fire Department, Bryan Fire Department, Canyon Lake Fire Department, College Station Fire Department, Dallas Fire and Rescue Department, District 7 Fire Rescue, Frisco Fire Department, Galveston Fire Department, Kyle Fire Department, Lake Cities Fire Department, Lewisville Fire Department, Little Elm Fire Department, Lubbock Fire Department, Montgomery County ESD # 6 (Porter Fire), Nacogdoches Fire and Rescue, Oak Hill Fire Department, Travis Co. ESD#3, Parker County ESD #1, Round Rock Fire Department, San Antonio Fire Department, Schertz Fire Department, Southlake Fire Department, Stephenville Fire Department,
Texas A&M Forest Service, Webster Fire Department, Wichita Falls Fire Department and Willis Fire Department.
A convoy of transports deployed last night and more engines are rolling out for the two-day trip to northern California. Responders will board flights beginning tomorrow and are expected to report for duty by Thursday morning, Aug. 9, 2018.
“We will be praying for them as they convoy to the Mendocino Complex,” said Boggus. “This is truly a joint effort and TFS appreciates the partnerships involved to deliver this assistance.”