COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — When firefighter Eric Morris shows up at wildfires across the West, locals battling the flames sometimes wonder who sent him.
The answer is an insurance company.
Morris is among a group of private firefighters hired in recent years to protect homes with high-end insurance policies. In a wildfire season that is one of the busiest and most destructive to hit the region, authorities and residents say their help is welcome.
"There's curiosity the first time they work with us," he said. "After a while of explaining and making some calls to the right people, they let us right in."
Morris and his nine-man crew helped protect 35 homes in Colorado Springs in the most destructive fire in the state's history. It killed two people and destroyed 346 homes.
For insurers, hiring them is worth the cost. They spend thousands on well-equipped firefighters, potentially saving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to replace a home and its contents.