Texas Officials Turn Down Self-Dispatched Vols

Many of the volunteers who headed to Bastrop to help battle one of the most destructive wildfires in Texas in decades were turned away, according to The Austin American-Statesman.

After the fires broke out on Sunday, officials sought state assistance and Austin officials requested assistance from off-duty firefighters to help battle two Travis County blazes.

A Facebook message was posted that called for firefighters to come to Bastrop and it quickly went viral.

Possibly hundreds of firefighters flocked to the town to assist and officials say they had good reason for turning them away.

"We may have had some of the world's finest firefighters showing up, but if they weren't properly qualified or trained and had no equipment, we had no choice," Bastrop County Emergency Management Director Mike Fisher told the newspaper. "I hate to tell anybody, 'We don't need you,' but we absolutely didn't want to get anyone hurt."

Many of those who self-dispatched didn't bring equipment with them and had inadequate training to fight the fires. "With wildland firefighting, we have to have folks trained, qualified and credentialed," Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Holly Huffman said. "We've got folks that are self-dispatching and coming in and maybe aren't credentialed in wildland firefighting.

"That just adds to the risk of someone getting hurt, and that's the last thing that we want."