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100 Mexican firefighters arrive in California to help battle wildfires: 'Fires do not have borders'

The SQF Complex of fires has been burning since August 19 and as of Thursday was only 35 percent contained.

100 Mexican firefighters arrive in California to help battle wildfires: 'Fires do not have borders'
Cover Image Source: Flickr/ On September 23, 100 Mexican Firefighters from CONAFOR arrived at the San Bernardino International Airport (Renee Jack)

Firefighters from Mexico arrived in California this week to help battle the record-breaking wildfires ravaging the state. Five teams of 20 trained, equipped firefighters from the Comisión Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR) landed at San Bernardino International Airport on Wednesday where they were welcomed by officials with the US Forest Service. According to NBC 7 San Diego, the crews will undergo several days of orientation and training sessions before they will be sent first to work in California’s Sequoia National Park. The park is threatened by the Sequoia Complex Fire — which spans more than 144,000 acres — and was ignited by lightning in the Sequoia National Forest.




The SQF Complex of fires has been burning since August 19 and as of Thursday was only 35 percent contained, reports CNN.  "I am excited about this unique opportunity to visit a station where I worked and trained when I was young. The training I received helped me advance my career and now I feel able to help USFS and Sequoia, bringing firefighters from Mexico with me, to provide support in the California firefighting effort," said Eduardo Cruz, the current director of CONAFOR. "Fires do not have borders, fires do not have different languages and cultures. In the end, we all speak the same language when it comes to fighting fire."




Cruz reportedly spent two seasons as a forest firefighter with a helicopter crew in the Sequoia National Forest as part of the training and exchange program early in his career. According to ABC News, Mexico's Environment Department said the firefighters, who hail from 22 states throughout the country, can be spared to help the US as currently there are no active wildfires in 31 of Mexico’s 32 states. "We're proud to have them here," said Tony Scardina, deputy regional forester of the Pacific Southwest region of the US Forest Service.




Canada also sent firefighting crews to California and Oregon this month, after the US Forest Service requested additional help through the National Interagency Fire Center. In a press release on Wednesday, the National Interagency Fire Center said that it has "requested additional fire personnel and equipment from Canada and the US Military to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in California and Oregon, along with" the crew from Mexico. "We continue to experience above-normal fire activity in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and other states," Ken Schmid, Bureau of Land Management Fire Operations, said in a statement.





"Thankfully, our Department of Defense and international partners are able to support us in this time of need, as wildfire activity will likely carry on for the foreseeable future, particularly in California," he added. As per the press release, the "Canadians supplied five agency representatives, eight helicopter managers, three heavy equipment bosses, 24 task force leaders, 15 division supervisors, nine type 1 handcrews, and 18 fire engines – all highly requested fire suppression resources. One handcrew is currently serving on the North Complex in California, the rest of the Canadian fire personnel gathered in Redmond, Oregon on September 18 and 19 for orientation and fire shelter training before deploying to fires in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday."




"An additional seven crews will be traveling from British Columbia, Canada this Friday, September 25, to Quincy, California, where they will receive briefing and fire shelter training before departing to assist on the North Complex fires in California," it stated. The USFS has had a long history of cooperation with Mexico in the area of ​​fire management since 1962. It dispatched fire management specialists to assist Mexico during the disastrous fire season that occurred in the State of Quintana Roo in 1989 and has been providing training and supporting the country in strengthening its fire fighting capabilities since 1983, the organization said.

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