Utah firefighters heading to California to fight blazes

(Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP) Firefighters hose down flames as a home burns in the Getty Fire area along Tigertail Road, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles.

Utah fire departments are sending at least a few dozen personnel to California to combat raging wildfires in the Golden State.

The total tally remained unclear Monday evening, though some fire engines were already rolling west. Others were anticipated to depart early Tuesday morning. And more continued to volunteer.

Joe Dougherty, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management, said that his office was helping coordinate between the California officials and available Utah wildland firefighters. The division is sending 40 personnel for two weeks under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, where states help others during crises.

That deployment will include three engines from Unified Fire Authority, one from Park City and one from Millard County. They will also be joined by crews from Layton, Orem, West Valley City, Murray and Wasatch County.

The Salt Lake City Fire Department tweeted that it, too, was sending a 12-person team and truck to California. The Provo Fire Department shared that one of its brush trucks — a one-ton pickup with firefighting gear on the bed — and personnel arrived Monday in California. And the Lone Peak Fire District wrote on its Facebook page that its crew had already arrived in Sonoma, Calif., where the Kincade Fire is roaring.

Meanwhile, Mike Melton, a spokesman with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said wildland engines and four personnel from the Hurricane Valley Fire District and three personnel from the Cedar City Fire Department arrived Sunday night in Santa Rosa. More might be on their way, too.

According to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, other departments with plans to go to California include North Logan, Smithfield, Bluffdale, Utah County and firefighters from U.S. Forest Service offices in Utah.

That includes two engines from the Ashley National Forest and one engine from the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, as well as 17 individuals from both agencies and Dixie National Forest.

Draper also plans to send firefighters. And though several Utah firefighters have gone to California before — including during four deployments in 2017 and 2018 — the task hits particularly close to home there.

In August 2018, Draper Fire Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett died near Potter Valley, Calif. He was serving there to put out wildfires when a plane dumped retardant on a tree that then fell on him.

The Draper crews left Sunday morning, being some of the first Utah responders on the scene. A councilwoman for the city posted: “Please keep these brave and dedicated fire fighters in your hearts and prayers.”

— Tribune reporter Courtney Tanner contributed to this article.

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