After a two-week, life-risking, 3,200-mile road trip, the timing of the homecoming for more than a dozen Snohomish County firefighters was an enormous relief.
"It's good to be home, back with our families, in time for Christmas," said Jerrod Spence, who served as a Battalion Chief for Washington Strike Team One's deployment to California's Thomas wildfire, which officially became the largest wildfire in California's history on Saturday.
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The Snohomish County crew was among 8,000 wildland firefighters battling to contain the wind-blown blaze. The local team worked to protect 1,500 homes, reporting thirteen homes were lost in the massive firefight.
Cal Fire says the flames have burned through 1,063 buildings and is just 65 percent contained after starting on Dec. 4th. It also said it expects fire crews to be working on the front lines around the clock until at least Jan. 7.
After a 32-year-old firefighter from Cal Fire was killed during the the Snohomish County crew's deployment, Chad Berg of Snohomish Fire District 7 said his crew members had to contact their families to assure them that they were ok.
"It's kind of a race to call back home to let your family members know that it's not you, it's not guys on your team, to let them know we're still here and we hope to come home soon," Berg said.