Durham fire crews head to western NC to battle wildfires burning nearly 50,000 acres


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A group of firefighters from the Durham Fire Department are headed out to western North Carolina to provide help as at least 15 wildfires rage in the region.

Eight firefighters left the fire station around 6:45 a.m. Thursday. The two four-man crews are expected to be battling wildfires for at least three days. They’ll be working 12-hour shifts while they do it.RELATED: CLICK FOR FULL NC WILDFIRES COVERAGE

The crews will provide structural protection for towns that are in the path of the Party Rock fire near Lake Lure – much of the area has already been evacuated.

Capt. Sean Boone with the Durham Fire Department said crews are heading out to the wildfires because they were asked and are ready and willing to help.

“Durham had the manpower and the state was asking for help and we’re glad to go help,” he said. “Whatever they need us to do, we’ll do.”

Durham isn’t the only local department sending fire crews to the area. Many have already been sent from Durham, in addition to crews from Wake and Orange counties.

On Tuesday, the Chapel Hill Fire Department sent four more firefighters to relieve another crew.

Chief Matthew Sullivan said he believed it’s their responsibility to send more crews if they’re able.

“That’s our responsibility. I think it’s our responsibility as a community in North Carolina to provide. We have assets and we’re blessed with nice weather right now, but we’ve also had our own share of disasters where we’ve received support from other agencies so we want to return that favor,” he said.

Another Chapel Hill firefighter who has already returned from western North Carolina said the conditions are rough and that most crew members are walking up to 15 miles per day and the air quality has been terrible.

Boone said his crews are expecting to work hard and deal with difficult conditions.

“[It will be] a lot of hard work. You know, it’s going to be taxing and it’s not glamorous out there in the woods,” he said. “Whatever they need, we are ready to do it.”

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