Washington firefighters leave home to help fight California wildfires
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Our firefighters are heading to California right now for the second time this year to help with the devastating wildfires.
Firefighters said they don't know what to expect, but answering a call for help is just what they do.
“Right now we might not be back for Christmas,” Captain Rusty Bachman said. “We're used to missing Christmas when the phone rings, it's going to be a little unusual being gone for the whole season.”
Sweet goodbyes were shared as firefighters got ready to take off on a long drive to Southern California.
“We know they're having a rough time down there,” Bachman said. “We know their resources are stretched thin, and hopefully we get there in time to give them some relief and help get this thing slowed down for now.”
It was just a couple months ago many of these same firefighters raced to California to help with fires earlier in the season.
“It's unusual for California to need help at all,” he said. “It's rare for us to go to California at all.”
This time, it was a little colder waiting to leave home.
“It's going to take us a lot longer to get there,” Bachman said. “We're going to have a lot of time to think about it between now and then, but the reality is, we respond to emergencies, we're just driving a lot further to get to one.”
An engine from Walla Walla, Richland, Benton County Fire District One, and two from Chelan are answering the call.
“We like to go help,” Bachman said. “When there's a need, we like to answer it. That's how we're wired.”
The assignment is 14 days plus travel--meaning they will likely be gone for much of the holidays and they said that could be extended.
“I told my wife this morning I might miss Christmas here,” Bachman said. “But maybe somebody down there will have a house left for Christmas. That's the reality of why we're going. I hope we can make a difference.”
Firefighters said they will be driving straight through the night the get there as fast as they can, and they won't know their assignment until they arrive.