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20 Local Firefighters Battle Flames in Southern California

20 Firefighters from Jackson County are in Ventura, California battling the Thomas Fire.

Posted: Dec. 8, 2017 6:10 PM
Updated: Dec. 8, 2017 6:27 PM

Medford, OR. -- 20 Firefighters from Jackson County are in Ventura, California battling the Thomas Fire. Medford Fire, Fire District 3, Rogue River, Applegate, and Illinois Valley all sent crews and engines. 

Today Medford Fire-Rescue told NewsWatch12 sending crews to California in December is unprecedented. They say although 20 crew members are down there, it won't affect their ability to protect us here. 

"The amount of smoke is just tremendous. We have a lot ahead of us," says Battalion Chief Tom McGowan. 

Fire crews say this isn't the first time California and Oregon have worked together. They say sharing resources helps take the weight off one organization.

"For the Chetco fire, California sent resources to help us there. Now we're kind of reciprocating that, sending resources down to California," says Medford Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief, Justin Bates. 

Bates says they have plenty of other firefighters that fill the open shifts, and they get overtime. He says it's much like if a crew member was sick or went on vacation.

"Since it is in the middle of winter it's kind of a slow period for us here. So we're glad to be able to send resources down there and not impact what our service delivery is here," says Bates. 

Bates says California reimburses the fire stations for their engines and crews, that way Medford doesn't have to pick up the costs.

The crews are expected to return in two weeks.

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