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Los Diablos travel from Mexico to help tame U.S. wildfires

June 6, 2012

A crew of firefighters known as Los Diablos recently traveled from Mexico to Texas to lend a hand fighting the wildfires blazing across New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Texas. The fires in New Mexico are the largest the state has ever seen, and they have been burning since a lightning storm sparked two separate blazes that joined together midway through last month, according to CNN. American firefighters are also combating fires in other areas around the Southwest. National and state parks have been closed and many towns are being evacuated while the war on fire wages on.

Officials at the U.S. Forest Service told the news source they have 1,236 people working on containing the fires and have gained control of about 17 percent of the wildfires by Sunday. National Public Radio reports they are even using aerial tanker planes to douse the fires with large amounts of water, but progress has been slow.

Texas officials contacted Mexico's Los Diablos, a group of 32 firefighters, to help put a stop to the flames burning in Texas' Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Fox News reports. The team may be small in size, but they are able to reach areas that other crews cannot since they work on foot.

"It's a crew that hikes in and works with hand tools and goes where bulldozers cannot go because it might be too steep, or there might not be access for one reason or another," David Elkowitz, fire crew leader for Los Diablos, told San Antonio news station KENS5. "These folks work hard and keep themselves in good physical condition and continue to work on fires."

The team was formed 20 years ago when local Mexicans got together to help fight wildfires along the border of the two North American countries. Their name stemmed from a comment made by one of the crew members about how they would "work like the devil" to fight fires, according to KENS5. Eight of the original members of Los Diablos are still active on the team.

Those who want to discuss Los Diablos and the fires burning across the U.S. can make calls to Mexico with phone cards and talk to their friends.

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