Utah firefighters arrive in California

Posted at 1:03 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 21:37:42-05

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Utah is one of eight states California asked for help in battling the wildfires.  Despite arriving in California late Thursday night, Utah crews were ready to hit the ground running Friday morning.

“In the world of wildland fire you always expect to not know anything, but you’re ready for anything," said Matt McFarland with Unified Fire Authority.

FOX 13 checked in with McFarland right as his team pulled into their staging area in Escondido, California late Friday morning.  He said the Utah teams that left Provo and Saint George Thursday were split into three different groups.  One strike team includes UFA and West Valley Fire.  McFarland said it is nice to have some familiar faces in an unfamiliar environment.

“Weather is the greatest indicator of what you’ll see in fire behavior. So this is a new fuel type for us. It’s not what we’ve been monitoring in Utah. That makes a significant difference," McFarland explained.

He said last night near Encino looked calm.

“Fire behavior was minimal to nonexistent. We could see a lot of smoke and hot spots. That’s typical overnight. The cool night air is something that often suppresses it. Obviously we’ve seen a lot of photos where that wasn’t the case. It was clear that it had burnt hot recently, but they were kind of monitoring to see what happens as the day heats up,” he said.

His team is assigned to the 4,100-acre Lilac fire in San Diego County.  He is not sure how the approximately 100 units at the nearby staging area will tackle the fire, but he said they are looking forward to using their training to get it under control.

“I think that the best we can do is hope the local resources do good educational campaigns to prevent fires from starting and that there’s enough resources here so if something does start up, we can jump on it in a hurry before it grows," McFarland said. "The fire behavior is harder to control once it’s on its own."

Stay with FOX 13 for updates on the Utah crews battling wildfires in California.