DEEP crews head out to fight wildfires out west

MARLBOROUGH, Conn. (WTNH)– Connecticut firefighters are once again heading out of state to help battle raging wildfires out west. The crew left from Marlborough Thursday morning. A 20 person fire crew will head to western Montana to help out the U.S. forest service. The crew is made up of trained DEEP staff members and 13 local firefighters.

David Shatas with the Waterbury Fire Department said, “I over pack a lot so I brought a lot of stuff but you got to be prepared.” This is the second 20 person crew Connecticut is sending this summer. In August a crew was sent to northern California to fight severe fires. But this trip to Montana is different. Other western states and Alaska are experiencing a record breaking wildfire season. Firefighters say they will have a lot of challenges. Anthony Flamio with the Farmington fire department said, “there are a lot of checks and balances like everything we do out west. We have safety officers look out, communication set up so we are constantly looking up, looking around, being aware of just what is going on.”

Helene Hochholzer with DEEP said, “you have different vegetation, different types of terrain, different weather patterns.” Local fire fighters are trained to fight wildfires. because water is limited in some places out west…. they might be putting out hot spots with dirt and soil using shovels and rakes. “every fire that we go to is different in it’s own way. not everyone will require us to use hose lines or to dig fire line we may do different things so it’s always a unique and new experience. it’s kind of like be ready for anything,” added Flamio.

DEEP says safety for their firefighters is their number one priority. Hochholzer said, “right now out west resources are strapped everyone is spread very thin and that makes for a more dangerous situation so we are letting our firefighters know they need to constantly be on the lookout, they need to be aware of the situation at all time and that everyone maintains a safe working environment.”

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