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Third group of Utah firefighters deploys out of state to help fight fires

Crews from four Utah fire departments will deploy to California on Sunday Aug. 29, 2021. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — A group of 22 firefighters from around Utah left early Thursday morning to help Montana with their wildfires.

This is the second group going to Montana, and the third group this summer to help another state fight wildfires.

Utah firefighters help other states control flames

Crews from Unified Fire, Lone Peak, West Valley City, West Jordan, and Weber brought trucks and 22 firefighters to the Maverik Center for a briefing, then they hit the road at 7:30 a.m.

Montana has 24 large wildfires right now that officials say together have burned nearly half a million acres.

“These fires are large and with homes threatened, it’s resource and labor intensive. They need a lot of resources to help. No state can really do this alone when there’s this amount of fire activity,” said Unified Fire Authority division chief Anthony Widdison.

Firefighters with experience

Some of the crews in this task force had been to Oregon on another task force earlier this summer, including Widdison.

“Up in Oregon, they saw a large amounts of fire activity early in the season, and that’s what they are seeing up in Montana as well. Very similar fuel type with large timber, and large fire behavior that we are going to,” he said.

The current group of Utah crews in Montana right now will be coming back to Utah on Saturday after their two-week deployment.

This group expects to be gone for 16 days.

Utah in a better place than others

Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted his gratitude for Utahns being more careful this summer so that we have not had as many major wildfires and can send crews to help other states.

Widdison says Utah’s wildfire season is not over yet, but so far we have been blessed by not having more major wildfires to fight.

“We did a really good job over the 4th and 24th of July with fireworks and human caused fires. And we’ve had some help from the weather. But we are still in the middle of our fire season, and we want to stay diligent the rest of the summer.”

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