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Area firefighters help with California fires

As California is being devastated by wildfires, the Swan Valley Fire Department took a chance to help. Three volunteer firefighters took an engine to California, where they’re going over hot spots and putting out any flare ups. And they’re certainly seeing the impact from the fires.

“They sent me a text of a picture,” Chief Oak Vonseggern, Swan Valley Fire Department Chief, said. “It looked like a neighborhood, that the houses were pretty much, they were just gone.”

While they’re helping out another state, the experience they get will be beneficial in the future.

“Firefighters go out and they get a lot of experience in big fires,” Chief Vonseggern said. “And then when they’re here, they do really well with our fires.”

Federal and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Utah have sent 67 engines, nine hand crews, eight helicopters and one smoke jump plane to California. Sending help is just a part of the firefighter way.

“None of us, when the big event happens, have the manpower and equipment to do it by ourselves,” Chief Vonseggern said. “Even here in this valley, we have mutual aid agreements and things like this that are already in place because we all know that if something happens here, I’m gonna need help from Idaho Falls, and Madison, and Jefferson and Teton County and vice versa. So we have a system where we can immediately just move back and forth.”

Chief Vonseggern also said there are about five engines from Idaho alone going to help put out the fires in California.

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