NY sends 20 personnel to help California battle wildfires

A firefighter gestures to his colleagues as he walks through thick smoke from a wildfire Thursday Oct. 12 2017 near Calistoga Calif

NY will give California a helping hand as it continues to battle devastating wildfires consuming the West Coast.

Twenty employees and volunteers from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation traveled to California this morning to assist in firefighting efforts there, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said. "These individuals represent the very best of NY, and I look forward to their safe return".

The New York team is expected to stay in California for at least two weeks, the governor said. All travel and administrative costs will be paid for by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to NY state, Cuomo said.

NY first sent a firefighting crew to assist western states in fighting large wildfires in 1979, and, on average, Cuomo says that one or two crews are sent to assist each year.

"The work of DEC's wildfire-fighting crew is a prime example of how states can work together and share resources during times of adversity". The wildfires throughout the state have burned more than 214,000 acres - a size larger than New York City - and have killed 40 people, marking the deadliest California fire in history, according to officials. This week, some of the tens of thousands of evacuees were hoping to return to their homes if they weren't under immediate threat.

Hundreds of people remain unaccounted for, though officials think they'll locate majority alive.

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