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SALT LAKE CITY -- They'll be home for Christmas, and not just in their dreams.

Most of the 100-plus firefighters deployed to California this month to battle the Lilac and Thomas fires are now on their way home and should arrive before Christmas. For the most recent Thomas Fire, burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, the fire agencies were divided into five task forces. Three of those task forces left for Utah Tuesday.

North Utah 2 (South Jordan, Salt Lake City, West Jordan and Sandy) North Utah 3 (Provo, Layton, Wasatch County Fire District [Heber engine], Murray, Wasatch County Uintah City) Southwest Utah 2 (Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands; Price, Sterling, Castle Dale, Fairview, San Juan, Elsinore, Kane County and Richfield.)

A fourth task force, as well as the Draper engine and crew, was expected to leave Wednesday, Dec. 20. Southwest Utah 1 (Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Washington City, Hurricane Valley, Cedar City and Kanab), are expected to arrive by Utah Dec. 23.

The fifth task force to demobilize, North Utah 1 (Unified Fire Authority, West Valley City), is expected to get on the road Saturday, Dec. 23. Utahns from each of these jurisdictions should be proud of their service.

"Utah was asked to help a fellow state in need, and our firefighters selflessly rose to the occasion," said Kris Hamlet, director of the Utah Division of Emergency Management (Utah DEM). "They were a tremendous asset, and their service was acknowledged as such by the State of California."

Utah DEM is the lead State of Utah agency for coordinating state-to-state mutual aid requests under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.