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Utah firefighters back home in time for Christmas after battling California fires

(Spenser Heaps, KSL)


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WEST JORDAN — After more than two weeks away, a group of Utah firefighters who helped battle devastating wildfires in Southern California is home just in time for Christmas.

The Northern Utah Task Force — a team of 23 firefighters made up of crews from Unified Fire and several West Valley City Fire departments — arrived at the Unified Fire Authority station Saturday afternoon. The crews hit the road in early December to help tackle destructive wildfires in California.

The crews first helped local firefighters take on a wildfire in the San Diego area. They were then assigned to assist with the Thomas Fire, a blaze that’s consumed over 1,000 structures and scorched 273,400 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since it started on Dec. 4. On Friday, the Thomas Fire became the state’s largest wildfire on record, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was 78 percent contained as of Saturday.

The firefighters helped save homes from burning down all while thinking of the homes they left behind in Utah.

“The real heroes are the wives at home that stayed with the kids and had to deal with that problem,” firefighter Ryan Love said jokingly. “The reason we chose to come out here is the same reason why we chose to be firefighters in the first place.”

For Love, being chosen to help the people of California was “an honor and a blessing.”

“I couldn’t think of any better place to be than to be helping the people in Ventura County.”

The Utah firefighters said it’s definitely unusual for them to fight wildfires in December but they’re ready to go again, if needed.

Contributing: Art Raymond

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