NEW CENTURY, Kan. - A group of Johnson County, Kan., firefighters has joined the efforts in Colorado to tame a wildfire that has killed at least two people and burned nearly 400 homes to the ground.
Johnson County Fire District No. 1 Battalion Chief Trig Morley left Thursday with two members of his team, firefighter John Allen and volunteer firefighter Josh Shaw, to Colorado Springs. They'll help battle the Black Forest Fire, blamed in the destruction of 379 houses as of early Friday.
Morley tells 41 Action News his crew will focus mostly on structure protection.
Battalion Chief Jerry Holly explained the Johnson County team's truck allows them to get close to the wildfires, but most of the protection is done by hand.
"It's very hard and dangerous. The trouble they're having right now is dealing with the wind conditions and humidity levels which are prime for fires. What they do is go in advance of the flames and cut fire lines to make an area the fire cannot jump to," Holly explained.
The crew of three will stay 18 days, then they can either request to stay longer or come home. Another crew of three from Johnson County is ready to replace them.
A total of 12 Johnson County firefighters are trained to battle wildfires.
The three firefighters who left Thursday were only given about an hour's notice. One firefighter, John Allen, is celebrating his wedding anniversary fighting the blaze.
"They had to tell their wife and kids they would be gone for the next several days, and yet, it's a great experience and we are happy to be able to help," Holly added.
Hundreds of other firefighters continue to attack the most destructive fire in state history at its core, near Colorado Springs.
The blaze has already burned about 5,700 acres, or roughly 25 square miles.
KSHB's Aaron Heintzelman contributed to this report