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California-bound fire crews face hiccups en route to scorched coast

By Annie Knox, KSL | Updated - Nov 12th, 2018 @ 9:51pm | Posted - Nov 12th, 2018 @ 5:14pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — More than 100 Utah firefighters traveled to California to battle one of two wildfires that together have killed more than 40 people and charred about 200,000 acres.

Their journey was not seamless. One engine suffered a mechanical issue just a few hours into the trip, delaying its arrival as crews awaited a replacement in Beaver. Mechanics from a tire shop fixed another problematic engine Sunday on their day off, the Unified Fire Authority posted on Facebook.

The crews arrived in California Monday afternoon.

"We're anxious and we're ready to get to work," said Unified firefighter Ryan Love. "They can't do it on their own. They're an amazing state and have great resources, but this fire is just so great and so big and so out of their scope that they need help."

Most of the Utah teams on Monday embarked on the last leg of their trip, waking up in Las Vegas before reaching Ventura County. But before heading out, they arrived at the parking lot of their hotel to find someone had spray-painted a Salt Lake City engine, Unified fire said in a statement. They managed to scrub most of the paint off of the truck.

The Utah group includes four task forces from across the Beehive State, plus two representatives from the state of Utah and a Unified fire mechanic. They are assigned to help battle the Woolsey Fire in the Ventura County town of Camarillo.

As of Monday, the blaze had killed two people, torched 91,500 acres and destroyed 370 buildings, the Associated Press reported. The second fire burning north of Sacramento is the deadliest and most destructive in California's history, scorching 113,000 acres and more than 6,000 homes.

Sunday morning, the Utah teams hugged their families goodbye at the Maverik Center in West Valley City before departing. Many are missing Thanksgiving at home to fight flames in California for the second year in a row. They're expected to return in two weeks.

"I couldn't think of a greater thing to do than to come and help people when they need it the most, when no one else can," Love said.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero

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