East Texas firefighters gain invaluable experience while responding to California wildfires

“The experience that they’re gaining on these large fires is something that you can’t replicate in training"
Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:48 PM CDT
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CALIFORNIA (KLTV) - As wildfires continue to burn out west in places like California, several East Texas firefighters are there to help.

And while the last major wildfire outbreak in East Texas happened in 2011, local fire officials say the experience being gained in California could one day help save local lives and property.

“Those guys that are deployed on this fire will probably come back and teach us some stuff on how to protect houses, how to secure those lines and teach us new ways to do it," said Andy Parker, Longview Training Fire Chief. "So it does give them good training and good experience to bring back to those us that are still here.”

Along with firefighters from Longview, a crew from Nacogdoches was also deployed to California.

“The experience that they’re gaining on these large fires is something that you can’t replicate in training," said Keith Kiplinger, Nacogdoches Fire Chief.

A majority of the local firefighters are working on the Creek Fire near Fresno, reinforcing existing fire lines, according to Kiplinger.

“This morning they had just completed their first 24-hour shift on the fire line and last night they did a controlled burning operation and burned out about 1,000 acres in the forest to try and remove the fuels and slow the spread of that fire," Kiplinger said.

And while this call for help may have come from more than 1,600 miles away, East Texas firefighters see it no different than responding to a call just around the corner.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to go help out other states," Parker said. “That’s what the fire service is about. Helping others, protecting lives and property, and that’s what they’re doing in California. So it’s an honor for us for them to even call on us for help.”

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