NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As dozens of wildfires burn on the western side of the country, resources are becoming strained. Crews from Tennessee are out there right now helping fight the blaze.
Public information officer for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, Tim Phelps, says 36 people and eight pieces of equipment from the volunteer state are currently serving other states out west.
“Each year the division of forestry works with our western colleagues when in need, and when called upon, to assist with the very large western wildfires,” Phelps said.
The Tennessee crews departed from Nashville International Airport and landed in states like Arizona, New Mexico, and California where multiple wildfires are burning.
“Going out on a 16-day deployment can be tough. You’re away from family. You’re away from your job,” Phelps said.
The process of fighting wildfires is long and intense. Phelps says it requires a lot of training.
“They can work up to 15 hour a day shifts,” Phelps said. “You’ve got to be able to carry 45 pounds of weights three miles within 45 minutes.”
In total, Phelps says they’ve sent about 82 people from Tennessee out west to help so far this year, which is more than normal.
“We’ve grown, especially after the last couple of years. We’ve grown a very healthy relationship with a lot of those partner states, as well as given them the confidence that our firefighters and our personnel that do other jobs are very capable of handling it. We’re proud of our personnel that does this,” Phelps said.