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Utah's Firefighters Head To California

Photo of a team of firefighters climbing a slope as smoke rises from a forest behind them.
Courtesy of Utah County Fire Department
Firefighters from the Utah County Fire Department combat wildfires in Northern California in 2017. Dozens of firefighters from across the Beehive State have travelled to California this week to combat this year's blazes.

Utah sent dozens of firefighters to California this week. 

Their goal is to help combat the blazes that have led to widespread power shut-offs and evacuations across the Golden State. California has seen a string of horrific fire seasons over the past few years, which it attributes to a changing climate.

Utah is less concerned with the cause, according to Jason Curry, spokesman for Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. But he said his agency stays in close communication with experts in climate and fire science.

It’s something that we’re paying attention to, and we always want to adjust as things get busier,” he said. “And as long as fire seasons continue to get longer, we’ll probably need to get more staffing.” 

Curry said that Utah only shares resources with other states when it won’t pose a risk to stations back home, adding that other states pay the bill when Utah’s firefighters are working across state lines. 

Joe Dougherty is a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Emergency Management, one of the agencies that helps coordinate firefighting resources between states. He said it’s a win-win.

Not only do Utah firefighters get the tremendous honor of helping a state in need, but they can bring that same experience back to Utah,” he said.

David Fuchs is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George.

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