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North Metro wildland firefighters help battle blaze in New Mexico

The fire has burned 270,000 acres and is 30% contained.

NEW MEXICO, USA — Coloradans are once again helping our neighbors in New Mexico. North Metro Fire Rescue sent four of their firefighters down to assist with the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire.

"We've been doing 16-hour operations of burning off, assisting hot shot crews, making containment lines around the perimeter, and trying to protect structures, and protect different assets at night. That’s kind of when we’ve been making our gains on this fire," said Lt. John Cook, engine boss for North Metro. 

The fire has been relentlessly burning for a month now and when crews there needed help, North Metro firefighters from Broomfield answered their call. It's only 30% contained and has burned 270,000 acres. 

"Arizona and New Mexico have significant fires right now where Colorado can lend a hand to those states utilizing our resources, we'll do that," said Cook.

On Sunday, Cook and three other wildland firefighters were deployed five and a half hours south. They've been working night operations. 

He said they're dealing with unprecedented and extreme fire behavior, like 30-40 mph sustained winds with 60-65 mph gusts and low humidity, making it difficult to suppress and contain the fire. 

"As Arizona and New Mexico's fire seasons slow down and Colorado's starts to kick up, they lend resources back to Colorado," he said. "So, it's a very give-and-take system across the country."

North Metro Fire crews have already been deployed three times this year to New Mexico and Nebraska. 

"It's going to be a very busy season for us," said Alberto Lopez, engineer/paramedic for North Metro.

He said sharing their resources with other fire departments across the country is important, especially for the massive fires that New Mexico is dealing with right now. 

“Neither state have the capability of handling those size fires by themselves, so they need assistance from all over the country," said Lopez. "It's really amazing to see that at any time, we're going to help each other no matter what."

He said while some of their crew is deployed, other firefighters pick up overtime to make sure their district is covered. 

And they know that if they need help in the future, departments from across the country would be willing to come help. 

“It is a country-wide kind of system that FEMA and the Forest Service have gotten together and created, so we can share units," said Lopez. "It is a very unique and amazing experience to be a part of just a massively large department even though we're all separate."

The North Metro crew will stay in New Mexico for another week and then return home to Broomfield.

The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said there are at least 149 wildland fire resources currently assigned out of the area from the State of Colorado. That covers resources like firefighters and fire engines. 

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