The last set of fire fighting vehicles from Texas, heading to California, rolled onto a flatbed trailer Wednesday at the Tony Berger Activity Center.
Truck driver Dale Edwards and his wife JoAnn were hired to make the long haul. "Actually it’s an honor, I was surprised, because I just came back from California and saw some of them,” said Edwards.
The Edwards and their two dogs, Tyson and Dottie, are from Illinois.
They had just completed a delivery to Pflugerville when the call came for the trip out west.
"I always like to make a difference, and this is making a difference,” said Edwards.
At nearly 800,000 acres the fires in California are considered to be the largest ever in that state.
Texas strike teams started heading out earlier this week as part of a larger national deployment. The Texas A&M forest service has called up 98 fire fighters under the local mutual aid system.
It's the first time that's ever been done.
The crews are out of 29 different departments from 20 counties. AFD Battalion Chief Joe Limon is confident the deployment will not hurt local abilities to fight fires. "Yes sir, our Wildfire Division is just one component from the Austin Fire Department,” said Limon.
The Battalion Chief is helping coordinate the response from Central Texas. The fire lines out west will soon have 15 people on them from the Austin region.
Compensation for transporting the people and equipment requires some juggling.
“That’s going to be the State of Texas and the state of California, that have to do those negotiations, our main job is just to make sure we get the fire fighters out there safely,” said Battalion Chief Limon.
All the local equipment is being committed to the California fires for at least 30 days. A second wave of firefighters from Central Texas is getting ready to head out; possibly in 2 weeks. "It’s a lot further away, climate is going to be different, we will be hitting triple digits during the day, but down in the mid-50s at night,” said AFD Lt. Chris Dibrell.
Deployments are not only hard on the crews, they're tough on the families they leave behind.
Dibrell admits his family is a little worried. “They are, but I tell them our training and the people we work, the confidence we have in them, will get us through."
The Texas fire fighters, are expected to start getting assignments on Thursday. The last bit of equipment, that left Austin Wednesday afternoon, is expected arrive in California by Friday.