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By Monday night, 73 firefighters from Montana had arrived in California to help fight the deadly fires that have ravaged the northern part of the state.

The crews from 17 agencies are driving down in 20 engines and will be divided up into four task forces. They’ll stay on site for two weeks, said Jake Ganieany, response and recovery branch manager for the Montana Department of Emergency Services.

“We are happy to help other states in a time of need,” Ganieany said. “We just hope California can get as many resources as they can to fight these fires and keep people safe.”

The death toll in the Camp Fire in Northern California rose to 42 on Monday. In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire had killed two people.

The local crews shipped out under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to request emergency assistance from other states. The requesting state foots the bill.

Columbus Fire Rescue sent three firefighters and one engine, according to firefighter and paramedic Jake Ellis.

“They’re all experienced wildland guys, too, so that’s why we sent them,” Ellis said.

Red Lodge Fire Rescue is sending six firefighters, two engines and a command vehicle for the strike team leader, who will be in charge of one of the task forces. Fire Chief Tom Kuntz noted that the firefighters who agreed to go would be working over the Thanksgiving holiday.

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“It’s something that those people are committed to and dedicated to, and we all think is important,” Kuntz said. “Because, you know, we will be asking for help at some point, and one of the things about Montana is we truly understand the concept of helping your neighbor.”

Ganieany, the DES manager, said California’s request for help came Saturday morning and most crews left Sunday.

Montana sent crews to help fight California fires as recently as August, when the Mendocino Complex Fire was burning. The state also sent sent crews down in December 2017, to fight fires in Southern California.

The current task forces include members of the following agencies:

  • Missoula Fire Department.
  • Missoula Rural Fire District.
  • Butte-Silver Bow Fire Department.
  • Bull Lake Rural Fire District.
  • Marion Fire Department.
  • Corvallis Rural Fire District.
  • Evergreen Fire Rescue.
  • Bigfork Fire Department.
  • Columbus Fire Rescue.
  • Red Lodge Fire Rescue.
  • Central Valley Fire District.
  • Livingston Fire Rescue.
  • Big Sky Fire Department.
  • Park County Rural Fire District.
  • Fisher River Valley Fire Department.
  • the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
  • the Department of Emergency Services.

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