Over 150 Texas firefighters across multiple fire departments in the state have been deployed to the west coast in an effort to help manage the massive wildfires in California.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made the announcement on Sunday, tweeting that approximately 200 firefighters, along with 55 fire engines, would be sent to Southern California beginning Monday morning.
The first responders making the trip would span from 47 fire departments and 23 counties across Texas. In addition, teams from the Texas Forest Service at Texas A&M University would also be deployed.
“The fires in California are a tragedy & Texas will send our bravest to help out,” Gov. Abbott wrote on Twitter.
He later spoke with CBS Austin and explained that sending help to California was “imperative” and that the state of Texas would continue to help in any way possible.
“When disaster strikes, it is imperative that the call for help is answered, and that is exactly what these men and women serving in fire departments across Texas are doing,” he told the news outlet. “As California continues to fight these fires, Texas will be sending its bravest firefighters to aid in their efforts.”
Gov. Abbott added, “Our prayers go out to all who have been impacted by these devastating wildfires, and the State of Texas will continue to offer any resources to aid in the recovery process.”
Porter Fire Department, which is approximately 27 miles north of Houston, also shared a notice and said the trip could take up to 14 days, likely causing their five first responders, Chief Carter Johnson, Robert Odom, Adam Inman, Ryan Johnson, Brandon Shafer, and countless others to miss Thanksgiving with their families.
“Members from the Porter Fire Department are answering the call once again,” they wrote on Facebook. “…Please keep these members, and their families at home in your thoughts and prayers as they begin their journey to assist with the wildfires in California.”
Battalion Chief 121/C Stephen Sever told PEOPLE that the five men from Porter’s Fire Station were looking forward to helping others, as they “thrived on working as part of a team” and were excellent leaders. Some, he noted, were excited to gain new experience in another state, while others have previously been deployed to help in years past.
The Porter Fire Department also explained on Facebook that the crews will drive the 1,500-plus mile trip over the next few days and report to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection once they arrive. If assistance is still needed in California after their 14-day trip, new crew members will be sent over.
Crews are expected to fully arrive at the west coast on Tuesday night and will receive their first assignment on Wednesday morning, according to Click 2 Houston.
The two wildfires currently burning through Southern California, dubbed the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire, have forced thousands of people in the area to flee their homes for safety, including many high-profile celebrities.
As of Monday morning, the Woolsey Fire had covered 91,572 acres and was only 20 percent contained. The Hill Fire, on the other hand, had spread over 10,000 acres in the Newbury Park area — just blocks away from the Thousand Oaks bar where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting last Wednesday.
In addition, an intense brush fire broke out in Northern California, causing thousands to evacuate, according to The Weather Channel. The “Camp Fire,” as its come to be named, has burned through 113,000 acres since it began on Thursday morning and was only 25 percent contained by Monday.
The blaze — which has devastated much of Butte County — quickly wiped out the town of Paradise and outside areas over the course of several harrowing days.
A total of 6,435 homes and 260 commercial structures in the county have been destroyed, Good Morning America reported, and at least 228 people are still missing, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.
Together, the three massive wildfires in Northern and Southern California have claimed at least 42 lives so far, making it the deadliest wildland fire in the state’s history, the Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced on Monday night.
“This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to,” Gov. Jerry Brown said during a press briefing on Monday. “It’s a time to pull together and work through these tragedies.”