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Mass. Firefighters Headed West To Battle Wildfires

HOPKINTON (CBS) – More than 2,500 acres of Montana's Glacier National Park are on fire.

The fast growing Howe Ridge Fire has destroyed buildings and is forcing residents and vacationers to evacuate.

It is why 20 Massachusetts firefighters are headed west.

They're deploying to Great Falls, Montana to help knock down some 22 fires burning in the Northern Rockies.

Howe Ridge Fire
Howe Ridge Fire in Montana (WBZ-TV)

Chief Fire Warden with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Dave Celino says the new fire risk is due in part to the weather pattern affecting California and Southern Oregon now shifting to the north.

The DCR received the call for help Tuesday and the Massachusetts team will be joining other New England firefighters in New Hampshire to fly out Thursday.

The crews are prepared to spend at least 14 days on the perimeter of the fires, creating the lines that will keep flames from spreading, so the fire can be stamped out.

Celino says, "These folks are what we call the ground pounders."

Wildfire crew
Mass. Wildfire Crew prepares to head west (WBZ-TV)

The veterans and rookies alike are excited but also aware that they are putting their bodies and their lives on the line.

Firefighter Roy Liard says, "Our main concern is that everyone comes home at the end of the assignment."

"It's only day one, but we'll see how it goes over the next 18 to 20 days," says firefighter Jason Antosz.

Both Liard and Antosz are fathers of young children and say it is the support systems they'll have back in New England that will keep them going on the grueling mission.

"We couldn't do what we do if it wasn't for the family support we have back home. We're definitely grateful for that," says Liard.

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