Dozens of Oregon firefighters responded to Northern California to help battle several wildfires that have killed more than 30 people and devastated the state.
Silverton Fire Department Deputy Chief Ed Grambush and his crew made the 12-hour drive on Wednesday. They were joined on the fire lines by crews from Salem, Keizer, Aumsville and Marion County with a total of five engines.
“It's a lot of work, a lot of driving,” said Grambush. “A lot of structure protection.”
Grambush said given the countless moving parts and extreme conditions, the joint operation was well organized and everyone knew exactly what they needed to.
“It's pretty smoky,” said Grambush. “Not that we're not used to it in Oregon where we just got through with it.”
Contracted crews from Oregon also responded to California, including firefighters from Miller Timber Services, based in Philomath.
Crew boss Andrew Bird described conditions near Grass Valley, Calif. as laden with “flashy fuels,” and unpredictable winds aligning with slopes. Conditions he said required the utmost focus and teamwork to tackle.
“Once we all get here under unified command, it doesn't matter where you were hired from or what agency you work for,” said Bird. “We're all here to help.”
Bird and his crew planned to be in California for two weeks. Miller Timber Services’ motto is, "Everyone goes home."