DENVER (CBS4) – Firefighters in Colorado have sent hundreds of their own to help crews in other states as they battle wildfires. Those who have returned home aren’t sure that our fire season is close to being snuffed out.
There are about 150 firefighters from the Denver Fire Department specifically trained to fight wildfires. Several of them have spent more than a month away from their departments and families to help other crews battling massive blazes.
“When the resources are low that’s where we come in to help these people,” said Denver Fire Department Lt. Shawn Armstrong.
As federal officials have called out for all hands on deck throughout the Pacific Northwest and California, firefighters from Denver likely have had one of the biggest responses.
“We’ll go with our engine, our Type 3 engine, we’ll be staffed with four firefighters, and then we do send out firefighters that are a single resource,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong has done two separate 14-day trips.
“When you add two days of travel, 14 straight days, 16-hour shifts, and then driving home for another two days of 16 hours of driving you’re worn out,” said Armstrong.
Denver Fire doesn’t send out more than 50 firefighters at a time to keep coverage levels safe for the city.
“In the end you’re helping people, and that’s the biggest thing, that’s why we do this job,” said Armstrong.
Denver has so many trained firefighters for wild land resources because the City of Denver is responsible for 16,000 acres of open space in the foothills along the Front Range.
When asked if he thought he was going out again, Armstrong replied, “Absolutely, it’ll probably be somewhere in California or potentially here in the Front Range.”
After witnessing the devastation from wildfires in California and Idaho, Armstrong believes Colorado may be next.
“We’re getting to a critical level, we haven’t had much moisture lately, and it only takes one event with a wind-driven fire like we saw in these latest California wildfires and things will be rolling,” said Armstrong.
– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.
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