HOUSTON — Nine Texas firefighters are among the first to take flight.
"Just another way to help out my brother firefighters up there in California," says James Nunez with the Porter Fire Department.
As wild fires in northern California rage out of control, those fighting the flames are sending out smoke signals and the Texas response is huge, much like everything in the Lone Star State. Nearly 100 firefighters are answering the SOS call.
"Our initial thought is we just want to get out there to help those guys," says Bryan Lee from the Galveston Fire Department. "They`ve been asking for us for a couple days."
Brandon Shafer is also with the Galveston department. "Oh this means a lot. This is the first time that we`ve ever been out of the state to assist another state with an assignment pretty much."
Teams from Galveston and Porter deployed Wednesday morning to join approximately 14,000 firefighters already on the ground. "Understanding we might be working a 24-on, 24-off schedule so a lot of long hours," says Lee.
Our guys have been assigned the Mendocino Complex Fire which has already scorched an area roughly the size of San Antonio, forcing mandatory evacuations.
Michael Morgan lives in Mendocino. "It was loud, roaring, you could hear trees explode. Pow, pow pow."
Texas fire departments combined to send 25 trucks. It`s part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System. T.I.F.M.A.S for short. The Galveston and Porter teams will be out west for two weeks battling the largest wild fire in California`s history. "I got two small kids at home so my wife is a trooper. She`s the real hero," says Lee. "She lets me go for 14 days, not knowing what I`m getting into."
For many, Lee says this is a thank you mission to the California crews who came here during hurricane Harvey. "They scratched our backs so we’re gonna go scratch their backs so that those guys can get some rest."
Sometimes payback is hell. In this case, payback is help!