The catastrophic fires in California that have claimed dozens of lives and devastated large swaths of forest and urban areas have triggered the deployment of local resources through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System.
Among the 200 firefighters deployed from Texas are an engine company of three experienced firefighters from Prosper, including the Town’s Assistant Fire Chief Shaw Eft. The three, veterans of other natural disaster deployments in the past, include a lieutenant, a driver and a firefighter.
“We have responded to the call from Governor (Greg) Abbott’s office,” says Fire Chief Stuart Blasingame. “In addition to the highly-experienced personnel, we are also sending an engine. Our firefighters will become part of the overall response force, working hand-in-hand with fellow firefighters from throughout the country.”
The Prosper personnel will utilize their training skills to confront an “all-hazards” situation, meaning that they will be ready to fight encroaching grass fires, structural fires, and implement tactical containment and deterrent actions.
Duration of the deployment is generally 14 days, depending on the severity of the need and the availability of replacements.
The Governor’s office authorized the deployment to assist with the fires in southern California, but the personnel may also be tasked with responding to fires in other parts of the state as conditions change.
One of the several fires raging in the area is the Woolsley Fire, already having consumed over 83,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Fueled by low humidity and gusty winds, the fire is steadily blazing through Malibu and neighboring canyon communities, as well as the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of West Hills, where mandatory evacuations are in place. Containment stands at 10 percent.
Responding firefighters from all across Texas representing over 43 cities deployed early today.
The Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System is a cooperative program of the state, local governments, and fire service stakeholder groups. The State of Texas reimburses local governments the cost of providing the resources. On deployments outside Texas, the requesting state reimburses all costs including the cost of maintaining staffing levels at each of the responding agencies.
“I know our personnel will represent the state and the Town with distinction,” said the Chief. “They are dedicated professionals who understand how important their roles are in this situation. They will mesh seamlessly with the other responders, and hopefully assist in putting out the fires, save lives and safeguard property.”