BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — With snow on the ground in Montana, fire agencies around the state are sending 20 engines and 72 firefighters to California to help battle wildfires there.

Gov. Steve Bullock approved sending crews as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. About 18 agencies are sending personnel and equipment for 14-day deployments.

Flathead County Fire Services Manager Lincoln Chute and Helena firefighter Owen Koeppen both say the work will allow Montana firefighters to gain experience, knowledge and skills they can use at home.

Helena Assistant Fire Chief Mike Chambers says six firefighters are going to California and the rest of the department will fill in and maybe work some overtime to cover shifts.

Blazes fanned by strong winds are burning in both northern and southern California, destroying homes and threatening others, forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

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