TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Two firefighters are back home in Texarkana, Texas after traveling to California to assist emergency crews there in the battle against wildfires.
One of the secluded areas in Central California has been on fire for nearly two months. Two of our own along with hundreds of other Texas firefighters were called to the rescue.
After being chosen to assist in the fight against wildfires in California, many are calling two Texarkana, Texas firefighters “hometown heroes,” but these guys say it was their duty.
“It’s something I’ll never forget I’ll tell you that. It was different than what us Texas or Louisiana folks are used to because we don’t have mountains like that around here,” said Texarkana Texas Fire Department Captain Nick Smith.
Captain Chuck Weerts, is a firefighter of 25 years. He was honored at the Pleasant Grove High School football game on Friday night. The community wanted to thank him for his hard work and service.
“It was a privilege to get honored there, but that’s not why I went to California. I went to help out and get experience for myself and get an opportunity to do something that nobody else around here has really done,” said Texarkana Texas Fire Department Captain Chuck Weerts.
Captain Nick Smith, a firefighter of 20 years, says they were stationed in Central California right outside of Fresno. There were long days, working 24-29 hours straight.
“Just like you would at home or you would camping. You do the job you needed to do and take a lunch break or supper break. Whatever you can and just keep going until your time is up,” said Smith.
Weerts says they spent about two and a half weeks putting out a fire across 300,000 acres.
“We went in, we climbed mountains. We constructed pan lines where we dug down in the dirt and cut brush. We chipped brush and chippers.”
Weerts was sent to help because he’s the only firefighter in Texarkana, Texas with the “Engine Boss” title. Smith achieved his qualification through the deployment.
“To be apart of the largest part of California fire, this is their single fire, that’s something to remember and have that experience.”
Firefighters say most of the fire has been controlled but some of the land is still in flames.