New Jersey Forest Service firefighters helping to fight wildfires on West Coast

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than two dozen major fires are now burning around California, and some of them are among the largest ever recorded in that state's history.

Since the middle of August, fires in California have killed 12 people and destroyed more than 3,600 buildings.

A group of firefighters, with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, left Thursday morning from Philadelphia International Airport for the West Coast to help fight those flames.

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They know they will be greeted with destructive, dangerous and devastating situations.

Communities across California, Washington state and Oregon have burned, in some cases, beyond recognition. Thousands of firefighters are attacking the flames and local crews say they can't sit back and watch - they have to help.

"We are sending resources to California because they are in desperate need of more firefighters. We have trucks located out there already and we are going to be replacing the crews that have been out there for the last few weeks," said firefighter Bill Love.

This crew is leaving as another is returning home after battling flames and seeing the devastation first hand. Action News talked some of those local firefighters who were on the frontlines of the massive firefight.

"We were just driving around developments and it was just burnt houses after burnt houses. You think to yourself, you wish you were there a little bit sooner to help out a little bit more," said firefighter Larry Birch.

"It is just what we do. That is what every first responder does. If people need help, you go and help them," said firefighter Dave Achey.

It's a dangerous mission but these local firefighters understand the risk.

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They will be among the thousands already on the West Coast putting their lives in danger, attacking the flames in an effort to save communities from being overtaken by fire.

"We received a postcard the other day from a resident in California - one of our firefighters protected their home and they just wanted to thank us. It does make us feel special helping these people, because they are in desperate need. There are not enough firefighters for the amount of fires they are having," said Love.

Local crews say they will continue to help for as long as they are needed.
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