GERING, Neb. (WOWT) As wildfires continue to rip through California, 6 News is giving you an up-close perspective from a group of firefighters who made the journey from Western Nebraska to the front lines.
The largest active wildfire, the Kincade Fire, is still burning. The coast of California is engulfed and flames are burning all the way south of Los Angeles to the north of the San Francisco Bay.
Three firefighters from the Gering Nebraska Fire Department were sent to the front lines.
Chief Nathan Flowers describing what they faced yesterday, “We were down holding a line and the fire hopped over the initial containment line so we were down on the line working with dozers and aerial support to be able to hold that line and mop that up.”
They arrived with their engine Monday afternoon, the fire four days into its rampage through Sonoma County and on its way to destroying 77,000 acres and more than 130 homes.
“There’s a lot of people that are misplaced right now because of evacuations, there’s a lot of people who have lost homes and property,” said Flowers.
186,000 people were under evacuation order. A couple thousand have been able to return home. Getting more people home is what’s driving these firefighters.
“Being able to get in there and really put in the solid work to be able to assist these individuals and get them back home. That’s the ultimate goal,” said Flowers.
To reach that goal, they’re putting in the hours.
“We have 16 hour days on the line and then we have 8 hours rest. Usually, that equates to 16 hours of work and a couple of hours of us driving back and forth to the fire lines so not a lot of sleep and a lot of work.
As of Thursday morning, the fire was at 65 percent contained.
The local crew has about 10 more days left in their deployment. Which, according to the chief, wouldn’t be possible if not for the firefighters in Gering, Nebraska holding down the fort.
“It’s not us three, we don’t need all the credit, because our boys back home are doing a great job too,” said Flowers.
There are a limited number of fire departments in Nebraska with the training necessary to fight wildfires. The Omaha Fire Department is trained to fight primarily structural fires.