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Utah firefighters helping in Oregon

Posted at 6:37 PM, Sep 14, 2020

BUTTE FALLS, Oregon — More than 100 specially trained Utahns are helping west coast communities scorched by devastating wildfires.

On Monday, four separate groups from Utah are offering assistance, some attempting to save homes while others search for survivors.

After a 15-hour shift overnight, Monday marks day five for Matt McFarland with Unified Fire Authority and his team of firefighters.

“We’ve seen some devastating loss,” McFarland said.

Thousands of homes have burned. Firefighters in McFarland’s group work to save what’s left standing in the town of Butte Falls.

“When you get here and you see the devastation they’ve suffered in structure lost and lives lost, things of that nature, it keeps it real, so to speak. You realized the importance of what you’re doing,” he said.

As of Monday, fires on the west coast burned almost as many square miles as Cache, Morgan, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Summit and Wasatch counties combined.

At least 10 people have been killed in Oregon. Many more are missing.

Over the weekend, 80 people with the elite FEMA Task Force 1 deployed to help with search and rescue efforts, adding to the 13 or more different fire agencies from Utah represented in Oregon.

“They have been super appreciative of us showing up here and willing to work,” said McFarland.