Hundreds of Oregon firefighters return from battling wildfires i - KPTV - FOX 12

Hundreds of Oregon firefighters return from battling wildfires in California

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Hundreds of Oregon firefighters are back home after pitching in to fight the wildfires burning in California.

Around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Multnomah County Strike Team arrived back in Portland after two very difficult weeks helping out on the fire lines in California.

The strike team started out in Ventura to help battle the Thomas Fire and moved on to Montecito and then Santa Barbara.

The Thomas Fire started on Dec. 4. It has burned 272,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Oregon activated 15 strike teams, a total of 300 firefighters, to go down and help out.

Those firefighters told FOX 12 it was some of the most difficult and dramatic work they've ever done.

"About 9 o'clock these winds came and they were 50 to 60 miles an hour, and a fire storm came over the hill and we were able to save five homes," said Battalion Chief Eric Lofgren with the Gresham Fire Department. "It was like a two hour fire fight. It was unbelievable. Nothing I've ever seen before."

"We'd try to go out to eat to support the local economy and things like that on our days off, and you'd see people in tears in the restaurant. People would come up and hug us and thank us and just so many tears," said Damon Simmons, Fire Lieutenant at Portland Fire & Rescue. "So it really meant a lot to them that we were down there, that Oregon was down there."

The Thomas Fire is currently 60 percent contained.

Winds are suppose to pick up again, but crews expect full containment by Jan. 8, 2018.

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