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Unified, Layton, Park City among crews helping fight California wildfires

Crews from Layton, Park City, Unified Fire are in California this week, helping fight wildfires. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

Friday will mark the third straight day crews from Unified Fire Authority are in California helping to fight several fires, including the Easy Fire, which has already burned over 1,700 acres in the Thousand Oaks area, and is, as of late Thursday night, 10% contained.  Unified Fire Authority spokesman Ryan Love says their crews are prepared for several new fires nearby, getting fueled by the unrelenting Santa Ana winds.  Love says their work was cut out for them as two new fires broke out during their first full day, Thursday.  They also helped existing crews in Ventura County secure some of the perimeter of the Easy Fire.

“We got our first assignment at 8 o’clock Thursday morning.  They put us to work all day on 12-hour shifts. From here on out, it’s looking like there could be either 12 or 24 hour shifts, all subject to change.  Wherever they need us, that’s where we’ll be,” says Love.

Love says this isn’t the first time his crews have been called to duty in the Golden State.  He recalled involvement in notable past fires, including last year’s Woolsey Fire in Ventura County.  The year before that, his crews helped fight the Thomas Fire, which at the time was the largest fire on record in California history.  Love says as it was in years past, they’ll take their orders and do what they’re asked to do, and hope their efforts help save lives and property.

Love says there are differences in wildfires that often spread through vulnerable areas of Utah, and wildfires in California.  One of those differences is what fuels those fires.

“The Santa Ana Winds, also known as the devil, or Diablo winds, is something that is not experienced in Utah.  Californians are unfortunately used to them. In Utah, typically at this time, we don’t see as much fire activity, as peak season has already passed.  Out here, about this time, California fires often ramp up,” noted Love.

While local crews, including Unified, Layton city and Park City firefighters, are out on the front lines miles away, Love says they are thinking of their families, many of the men and women missing their children as they dressed up for Halloween on Thursday.  Love had a chance to Facetime his family this week.  He has three children, with one on the way.

“There’s no better place than where we are right now,” says Love, “but when you’re thinking about family back home, it is difficult sometimes, but what we’re able to do for people here in California, the resources we’re able to provide for these firefighters is invaluable and we’re excited to be here.”

A new brush fire erupted north of Los Angeles Thursday night.  The Maria Fire began at approximately 6:30 p.m. local time.  Two other fast-moving wildfires exploded in Southern California early Thursday, including the Hillside Fire in San Bernardino, prompting mandatory evacuations and destroyed at least six homes.