East River firefighters are on their way to help with the Apple Fire ahead of what crews say will be a busy weekend.
Colton Fire Chief LeRoy Koopman says teams of three from Renner, Brookings, Parker, Trent and Colton went as part of a mutual aid contract. And Koopman says part of the reason is because Black Hills firefighters are busy providing aid in Colorado.
The Colton crew was called late Wednesday night. By 5 a.m. Thursday, they were on the road.
"We took a type six grass unit. It's got only so much water on it; it's got foam on it, a hose. It's gotta have certain criteria to make it a type six engine," Koopman said.
Koopman and some of the department spent the afternoon working on one of their trucks. There are six left, including another grass unit to keep any fires out at home while part of the crew is away.
"The college kids that do this in the summertime are still in college, so this has been the earliest I remember being activated," Koopman said.
Sixteen men from five eastern South Dakota towns have all headed out to the Hills. They'll be there for about five days, but there is a potential more might have to go.
Koopman says the men will help in staging areas for fires that have been popping up in the Hills just about every day. As of Thursday afternoon, they were already mobilized. And going into a warm and windy weekend, fire crews may have to expect more of the same.
"They call, we go," Koopman said. "Just helping people. That's our motto. People helping people."
Colton firefighters were also called on last July. As for the danger back home, there are still plenty of people, and equipment, if they are needed.