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Denver Firefighter Describes Fighting Wildfire In Arizona

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado firefighters are now working the fire lines on the massive Wallow wildfire in Arizona. Denver residents could feel the effects of the fire on Saturday.

“This is the largest fire I’ve ever been on,” Arizona firefighter Steve Vickers said.

It’s a fire of historic proportions. The Wallow wildfire has been burning almost completely unchecked over an area larger than New York City.

John Cook with North Metro Fire is helping fight the fire. He says it reminds him of another massive burn.

“I was actually on the Hayman fire, on one of the initial attacks on the Hayman fire , it’s a lot like that,” Cook said. “Instead of the incident command being able to plan out days at a time, we’re in a more of a reactionary state.”

The Hayman fire burned 138,000 acres. Arizona’s fire is three times larger than the Hayman fire. It reaches down to roads and whole trees are engulfed in flames. An apocalyptic column of smoke has been lifting into the atmosphere so high its felt several states away.

“The smoke is super thick. It’s like walking around in a fog bank for the most part,” Cook said. “You can’t escape the smoke at all. You go into the incident command; you can’t get any sort of finance paperwork or other paperwork done. The buildings are just filled with smoke.”

Cook’s team is part of a 50 man army.

“Right now we are doing structure protection,” he said.

Fire crews are scratching line in the ground, trying to protect structures that are in the fire’s path.

“They’re working the lines, they’re digging, they’re clearing the way,” Arizona firefighter Stephen Miller said.

Just how long the fight will go is unknown. It’s now stretching into parts of western New Mexico. But as is spreads crews are finding small victories, but they’ll need a lot more.

The Wallow fire is set to become Arizona’s worst. It’s only 6 percent contained.

Colorado firefighters will be there until its fully contained. Crews from Colorado are being sent down every 2 weeks.

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