Raleigh, N.C. — More than 60 Red Cross volunteers and 15 airmen from Pope Air Force Base were headed to California this week to help fight the wildfires that forced 500,000 people to flee their homes.
Eight volunteers from the Triangle Area Chapter of the Red Cross are among the 64 Red Cross workers from North Carolina who plan to leave for California by Friday, officials said. The workers will assist in 11 shelters set up across southern California for people who had to evacuate and will help distribute water and food to firefighters battling the fires.
Members of Pope AFB's 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron were scheduled to leave the base Wednesday evening.
The team, which will be stationed at March Air Reserve Base, in Riverside County, Calif., consists of flight nurses, aeromedical and communications technicians, as well as a medical support commander. They will set up in preparation for any injuries or evacuations that might occur because of the fires.
Many members of the squadron also deployed to Brownsville, Texas, in support of Hurricane Dean preparations, to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and to the Middle East in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
Officials said it's unclear how long any of those deployed would remain in California.
The North Carolina Air National Guard also deployed personnel and three C-130 cargo planes on Tuesday to help battle the fires.