Alabama Firefighters Heading West as California Deals with Near Worst Year

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA)-- The number of acres burned in California since mid-June is closing in on the one million mark making this one of the worst fire seasons in the state's history.

Now, Alabama firefighters are taking action after a nationwide call for assistance. A multi-agency team is sending Alabama wildland firefighters west for fire detail. The crew is made up of nine USDA Forest Service firefighters, 11 Alabama Forestry Commission firefighters, one from the National Park Service in Alabama and one from the Pelham Fire Department located in Shelby County.

The firefighters left from Montgomery around 2pm Tuesday. First they'll head to Tampa, Florida where they'll connect with four other 20-person crews. The combined crews will then take a National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) plane west on Thursday.

Army National Guard

Two Alabama Army National Guard helicopters left for California on Monday to combat the fires. Ten maintenance and flight crews will accompany the pilots on the mission.

One UH-60 Blackhawk, based out of Mobile, and a CH-47 Chinook based out of Birmingham will utilize water buckets suspended beneath the choppers to put down the fast growing fires. The UH-60 utilizes a 780-gallon bucket while the larger medium lift CH-47 has a 2,000 gallon bucket.  This mission is set to last 14 days.