East Texas firefighters join California wildfire battle

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The death toll from the California fires has risen to fifty-eight people, and now Longview firefighters are in the area of the Woolsey fire where they have been attached to a hands crew unit.

As the catastrophic fires continue in California, three Longview firefighters are among those battling to contain the burning areas.

"They arrived yesterday morning with the rest of the Texas firefighters that left. We sent 200 firefighters from the state of Texas. They're assigned to the Woolsey fire at this time," said section chief Andy Parker the team trainer.

They're specially trained in wildland firefighting.

Deployed on a 'hands crew', they have a variety of duties.

"They're doing division pop-up, supporting type 6 wildland engines, and hand crews. They could be cutting hand lines with hand tools, or doing structure protection, any number of things. Trying to stop the fire through the mountains," Parker says.

The job is made extremely dangerous due to conditions. It's not only dry fuels.

"They were having hurricane force winds during some of this. It pushes the fire and then the fuel! how much fuel they have to burn, " says Parker.

And something you don't often hear. To be aware of safe zones to retreat from the advancing fire.

"They're trained to look for the safe zones, and keep them clear if the fire starts getting worse," Parker says.

The team is going to be on the California fires until they are relieved by other crews.

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