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New group of Utah firefighters heading to battle California wildfires

Posted at 8:09 AM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 19:25:08-04

WEST VALLEY CITY — Another group of Utah firefighters are headed to California Thursday to help crews dealing with devastating wildfires on the west coast.

Thursday’s action by the task force is the sixth emergency management deployment involving Utah firefighters this summer. The unit is made up of volunteers from Unified, Park City, Murray, Draper and North Fork fire departments to help battle blazes in neighboring states.

The Dixie Fire continues to rage in what has become California’s largest wildfire ever, with more than 735,000 acres already burned. Crews are also battling the Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe.

While deployments from Utah used to be a rare occurrence, they have become normalized in recent years.

“Now it’s a thing, every single year for an extended period of time. Not just during the summer but during the shoulder seasons as well, during the spring and the fall as well," said Ryan Love with Unified Fire. "We’re anticipating this moving forward, for the next few years, we’re expecting this.”

But looking ahead is for another time as volunteers work to douse the flames of the fires currently burning.

"The fires in California are still burning; the Dixie Fire is only about 45% contained which means it’s going to be going on for a long time," said Joe Dougherty of the Utah Department of Public Safety. "This year looks like it will be a record year for EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact) deployments from our state.”

The task force headed out Thursday consists of 22 team members who will be taking heavy duty fire fighting equipment with them on what will be an 18-day deployment.

A seventh EMAC request sent out Thursday means 17 more local firefighters will be the next to head out to California this weekend.