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Utah firefighters head to California

Firefighters confer while battling the Kincade Fire near Geyserville, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. Portions of Northern California remain in the dark after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. cut power to prevent wildfires from sparking during dry and windy conditions. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — At least 11 fire engines from Utah are traveling to or have already arrived in Northern California to help fight the Kincade Fire.

Engines from Draper, Bluffdale, Provo City, Smithfield, North Logan, Lone Peak, Hurricane, Cedar City, Forest Service and Utah County have been called upon to help.

The deployment is especially emotional for members of the Draper City Fire Department since it brings up memories of their fallen colleague.  Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett died during an accident while helping to contain the Mendocino Complex Fire just a year ago.

Officials say, ever since Burchett’s accident, safety has been an extremely high priority for their firefighters.  Chief Clint Smith says if Burchett were still alive, he’d tell everyone to go help the crews in California.

He says, “Matt died doing what he loved and what he believed in, and, it’s absolutely what he would want us to continue to do in his honor… to be an available resource and to be out there, serving.”

According to Smith, every one of his fire fighters knows the possible risks, but, the need to help others will always be present.  And, in the case of the Kincade Fire, the need is very real.

Smith says, “It’s actually a very large fire in Sonoma County.  The latest update I saw on that one is that it’s 80 square miles, over 30 thousand acres and there are over 180 thousand people evacuated as a result of that fire.”

Jason Curry with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands says more could get the call as the day progresses.

Three firefighters from the Lone Peak Fire District arrived in Northern California late Sunday night. They left in the early dark hours Sunday morning.

The Lone Peak Fire chief says firefighters have a strong desire to serve and help other people, whether in Utah or out on a deployment.

Curry says several agencies were in a good position to help since fire seasons in Utah and California are slightly different.

“We can receive help from them during out busy time.  Now that thing here in the state of Utah are slowing down, we have some resources that are available to go and help,” Curry says.

The average deployment last for two weeks.

“It just depend on how things go with that fire.  It could be 14 days and it could even extend to 21 days,” he says.

(Contributing: Paul Nelson)