Michigan DNR firefighters to help with California fires

FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, file photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, flames from a back firing operation underway rise behind a home off Ladera Lane near Bella Vista Drive in Santa Barbara, Calif. Crews battling Southern California's enormous wildfire are struggling to widen and extend firebreaks before the return of winds Wednesday evening, Dec. 20, 2017, that could once again drive the flames out of control. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – A team of Michigan wildlands firefighters is heading to California to help put out fires that have been burning across the state.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said 20 firefighters left Wednesday and will be gone through early January. They will be on standby in the Sequoia National Forest.

The team includes 13 Michigan DNR firefighters. Seven others are from Michigan’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

DNR Fire Section Manager Jim Fisher says the team could replace crews at fire stations or help with project that local departments can’t get done while their crews are out. They also could be assigned to fight any fires still burning.

Fisher says Michigan will be reimbursed for expenses to send the teams.

The fires have burned more than 270,000 acres since early December.

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