Nearly 100 Utah firefighters arrive in California to battle wildfires

SALT LAKE CITY Nearly 100 Utah firefighters from four different task forces are in Southern California right now battling the Woolsey fire in Ventura County, but the journey to get there had a few hiccups along the way.

After leaving the Maverick Center Sunday morning, Agency Representative Chet Ellis, said the group of Utah firefighters hit their first bump in the road outside Beaver, where they had mechanical issues with one of their engines. Then another engine had issues down near St. George.

“We had a lot of help from the different agencies and also some mechanics there in St. George who did an amazing job taking care of us,” said Ellis.

From St. George, they headed to Las Vegas where they ran into another bump.

“One of the engines had some spray paint on both sides of it. Luckily, they only tagged that one engine, but we were able to clean it off really quickly with the help of the staff there at the hotel,” said Ellis.

From Vegas, the crew drove to the incident base camp in Camarillo, California, arriving Monday afternoon.

“First thing this morning we got up and two of our task forces were given assignments and we do have two other task forces that are here in staging ready to go,” said Ellis.

Task force one is battling the Woolsey fire in Ventura County. The blaze, which is more than 96,000 acres, has burned 435 homes and is only 35 percent contained.

“There's kind of a steady wind of 15-20 with gusts up to 40. Humidity is down in the low single digits so definitely they call it some red flag warning behavior,” says Ellis.

Task force two is battling a nearby blaze called the peak fire. The other two task forces are on standby, getting ready to step in and take over for the California crews.

The plan is to be there for ten days.

“That obviously could be shortened or extended however they need to,” said Ellis.

They could end up spending their Thanksgiving in California.

“There is that potential to be down here during that, but at least as far as I`m concerned, my family we`re going to have our own separate thanksgiving when I get back,” said Ellis.

However, these dedicated firefighters and their families know this is just part of the job.

“When we get the call we just do what we have to. We fill these spots and come down and help because we know they would turn it around and do it for us also,” said Ellis.