FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Several Crews of Wildland Firefighters made their way to the lower Forty-Eight over the weekend to grapple with fires that are blazing across the west.
Julie Swisher has the story of how these men and women are gearing up for the tour.
Four EFF crews, and the White Mountain Forestry Type 2 Firefighters, were dispatched to several locations across the western half of the U.S, to help suppress the growing fires that are burning across the several states.
Owen Smith with White Mountain Forestry, whose crew left Saturday for Utah, explained some of the conditions the crews should expect.
"Well were flying into Salt Lake City this evening, and we are expecting it to be hot and dry, and probably pretty windy. Were looking forward to representing the state of Alaska outside and doing some really good work for the Areas that are in need," said Owen Smith.
Like many firefighters the crews are told where they are going, but are unaware of what assigned fires they will be fighting until they arrive.
They prepare themselves mentally and physically in preparation for their tours. Tim Mowry explained how firefighters have a reciprocal relationship and help each other out when needed.
"There's over 20 thousand people on fires mostly in the western US, and these guys they work two to three weeks in a row, 15-16 hours a day, so people get tired, and they need people to replace them, that's where these guys are going to come in, they're going to be able to go down there, and they're fresh their coming off days off," said Tim Mowry.
On Sunday four crews from Fairbanks, The Kobuk Valley #2 crew, Yukon-Koyukuk, and The K-River crew, gathered in the rain, loading up gear and grabbing a lunch for the ride.
The EFF Crews boarded the plane at the BLM, AFS facilities on Fort Wainwright bound for Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and a small portion on South Dakota. They will be mobilized to a fire when they arrive.
So far, more than five million acres have burned nationally, as this season continues to grow toward becoming the fifth largest in terms of acreage burned.
Alaska's fire season accounts for 398 thousand acres thus far.