Georgia foresters help fight western wildfires
by Wes Mayer
A Georgia forestry crew has spent the last week assisting firefighters in the western United States with battling the wildfires sweeping through the area.
Each year, the Georgia Forestry Commission tries to get crews together to travel to other states and assist with fighting fires. On Aug. 9, a 20-man hand crew of Georgia forestry employees traveled to Utah to work on the fires in the area.
The crew has been patrolling the fire lines, extinguishing and watering down smoldering areas and using tools to dig up ground to slow and hopefully stop the fire from spreading.
“We try to go out every year,” said Willie Boston, assistant manager of the local Georgia Forestry office. “We try to get people out to help other states.”
Boston said employees of the forestry commission are assisting in fighting numerous fires out West, and are also in California, Idaho and Alaska. Boston said the crews typically spend two weeks helping out, and the Georgia hand crew has actually been living in tents when not patrolling the lines.
Chris Babb, an employee of the forestry commission in Meriwether County, is a member of the Georgia hand crew. Seth Weatherford, the forester who covers Coweta County, and Paul McDaniels, an employee in the forestry district office in Newnan, are also members of the crew.
There are a number of giant fires burning across the western United States. On Wednesday, a fire near Park City, Utah, destroyed 14 homes in a subdivision. About 250 more homes are threatened by this fire, which has spread to nearly three-square-miles wide. Another fire in Utah’s Skull Valley has grown to become 16-square-miles wide.
The largest fire in Utah, named the State Fire, began last week and has grown to 36 square miles. This is the area were Chris Babb and others on the Georgia crew are working.
The fire has jumped over the border into Idaho, and 250 firefighters are currently in the process of combatting this giant fire. The fire, which began as a lightning strike, has burned through more than 175 square miles.