KUSA - As wildfires burn across southern California, firefighters like Jonathan Ashford don't want to be sitting on the sidelines.
"It's the reason we do the job. We're here to help people whether that means the folks who live two blocks from our station to folks that live 3 or 4 states away," Ashford said in a video provided by West Metro Fire Rescue.
West Metro shot video of one of their crews leaving Wednesday morning as one of 17 fire engines from agencies around Colorado driving to help with the wildfires near Los Angeles. Wednesday, I-405 was closed as the largest of the wildfires, the Thomas Fire grew to 65,000 acres just northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Hundreds of homes have already been destroyed.
"They're going to be sent out to California as ground resources and they're going to be on the front lines fighting the wildfire directly," Caley Fisher, public information officer for the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, said.
Fisher says her department received the official request Tuesday for help in California. In one day, agencies arranged to have the 17 fire engines and crews geared up and headed on the road to California.
"We have each other's back during this time when one state is vulnerable and they need help," Fisher said.
She says Colorado is part of a national interagency system for combating wildfires. When Colorado needed help, California firefighters were sent here to help.
"For us to be able to help support them by sending these 17 fire engines out there and potentially aircraft as well, it's an honor to be able to do that," Fisher said.
Ashford said he is happy to help. He is just surprised that help is needed in December.
"This is kind of an unusual time of year to get called out of state just based on the fact that you know, it's 20 degrees in Colorado and we're heading to California to fight fires which we normally do in the summer," Ashford said in the West Metro video.
He and his crew will spend two weeks in California. Ashford is a former assignment editor with 9News. He went from covering major disasters like wildfires to going directly into them to help.
"You're going there with the hope that two or three weeks before Christmas, you make a difference in somebody's life," Ashford said in the video.
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