Washington County firefighters helping in California

Washington County firefighters in California

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Dozens of firefighters battling the flames in California are from the Portland-Metro area.

That includes Chris Lanter, a Duty Chief for Banks Fire District 1.

Lanter and six other firefighters from Banks pulled into camp on Wednesday with a task force from Washington County.

“Just hearing about all the devastation, we wanted to go down and help as much as we could,” said Lanter by phone during his dinner break, Monday night.

Since arriving, Lanter and his crew had been busy mopping up acres of smoldering land, some of it where houses once stood, working 24 hours on, 24 hours off.

“It's a lot of long shifts for a lot of guys and then the drive wiped us out,” said Lanter, “but we're all getting appropriate rest so it's going well.”

“I think fire is the most devastating thing,” said Lanter’s father, Dwight Lanter, who spent more than 30 years with the Forest Grove Fire Department. “I wish I wasn't retired or I'd be down there with him.”

Dwight Lanter said thinking of his son in those conditions evokes mixed emotions.

“I'm really proud but then I worry,” said Dwight Lanter. “This is a fire of catastrophic size that's never really been experienced before.”

Fire crews from all over Oregon and Washington were in California battling the fires. For family and co-workers back home, communication was spotty at best.

“Cell service is a real bummer down there,” said Dwight Lanter, who's held off from reaching out to his son's department.

“That's all they need—some retired fire captain dad calling, ‘hey, is my kid ok?’” said Lanter with a chuckle.

Instead, Dwight Lanter had been relying on his faith and his confidence in Chris' ability.

“He'll keep himself and his crew safe,” said Lanter.

Words of confidence that make all the difference to Chris, even from hundreds of miles away.

“It's good to have [my family’s] support but I know it worries them,” said Chris Lanter. “It's a dangerous job but knowing they support me, helps out.”

© 2017 KGW-TV


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