Firefighters Gather in Texas for Wildfire Training

BASTROP, Texas --

Hundreds of firefighters from across the country gathered in Bastrop, Texas, Wednesday to learn skills that could mean the difference between life and death in raging fires, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Students got hands-on training from the Texas Forest Service.

"As these people become more experienced they may actually get sent," student Jennifer Korn. "They can put themselves on availability and be sent out to these extreme fires that are in southern California."

The students made a fire line, a barrier that controls the flames, by clearing out vegetation that could fuels the fire.

Lead instructor Larry Weaver said he has been watching as the wildfires in California grow out of control.

"There's not a whole lot anybody can do in that situation but get out of the way," he said.

More than 500 firefighters took the class to learn techniques that could go into use in places like southern California, but the next fire they see could be the real thing.

"It's all about training," Weaver said. "We're training for the big ones. We're training for the small ones, but we're training for the big ones."

Over the past 10 years, the Texas Forest Service has trained more than 4,000 firefighters.

Weaver said there is a very good chance some of his students are right in the middle of the battle in California.

"It's good to know that, hopefully, they'll put into use some of the training we've given them and, hopefully, they'll do a good a job and not get hurt," he said.

"I wish I was out there so I could shake their hands and tell them what a good job they're doing," Korn said. "I hope that there are people around the country who are experienced that are willing to replace them when it's time."

Homeowners can get tips on how to protect their homes during an expo at the Lonestar Convention Center on Friday and Saturday. The event is free.