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Texoma firefighters battling wildfires in California

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 10:37 PM CDT
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PARIS, Texas (KXII) - Several Texoma firefighters are battling wildfires in California alongside hundreds of other firefighters from Texas and Oklahoma.

A Paris crew and a Whitesboro firefighter are a part of the Texas task force helping in California.

They’ve been there since last Sunday working 24 hour shifts, fighting fires day and night.

“It looked like a war zone in some places," said Whitesboro Volunteer Fire and full-time McKinney firefighter Lt. Emory McCall.

“Everything’s ash, so I mean it just looks like a disaster zone’s come through in some of these areas," said Paris Fire Capt. Connor Wideman.

“We’re trying to protect some houses that surround the Bass Lake community," said Paris Fire Deputy Chief Randy Crawford.

They’re fighting on the west side of the Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest, nearly 280-thousand acres, 27 percent contained.

When the state asked for help, they were the first three to say yes in Paris.

“In Texas, we drive our trucks to put out the grass fires or wild land fires, here we have to carry. We park our trucks at the bottom of the hill and we walk up to the top," Crawford said.

For their team of 21 firefighters, it’s an over 10 mile hike on rough terrain to reach the fire line carrying 40 to 60 pounds of gear and equipment.

They’re mostly using tools and saws to contain the flames, since water hoses can’t reach where they are.

“Some nights we get to get a little rest and sleep on the fire lines, the other nights we’re working," Crawford said.

McCall is with a team battling the more than 846-thousand acre August Complex Fire at the Mendocino National Forest.

“This is real and it is very widespread. And just keep praying for the people in California," McCall said.

On his first night, he saw 100 foot high trees smoldering for thousands of acres.

They’re working along roads night and day to prevent fires from spreading to nearby homes.

“Being a firefighter, that’s what we do first and foremost is when people are in need, we’re there to help," McCall said.

“You know just here to help, and see they’re just happy to have us. And that’s pretty cool," Wideman said.

The Paris crew will be there until next Monday, but they were asked to stay so they could be there another week.

McCall says he’ll be there for two more weeks.

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