Watch CBS News

Westmoreland Co. Firefighter Goes To California To Help Battle Massive Wildfires

LIGONIER, Pa. (KDKA) -- A firefighter in Westmoreland County dropped everything to help battle the wildfires out west.

Firefighter Josh Derk is now back home at Ligonier Volunteer Hose Company #1, a stark change from where he's been lately

"I was in California at Point Reyes National park," said Derk.

derk
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Derk was recruited to battle the catastrophic and gigantic wildfires out west.

"The smoke, basically, the sky was gone. There was no sun," said Derk.

Derk said the fires he and others faced were an incredible physical grind.

"My job was on a saw crew. We'd get in front of the rest of the crew and cut a path with chainsaws, make a hole," the firefighter said. "So we did that for nine straight days of 16 hours. By the end, the body was pretty beat."

Derk told KDKA's Ross Guidotti that danger was everywhere, and it was just not the flames.

"We had to worry about a lot of bees. A couple of our guys got stung, and there were crews working in front of us where one guy got stung 30 times," Derk said. "The one morning, a crew — five of them — got hit by a tree limb."

Derk says he'll sit tight for a while but if the call comes, he'll pack up his gear and head wherever he is needed. He was one of four firefighters at the company who qualified to go out west.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.