By Charlotte Underwood / Staff Writer
Two crews of the best firefighters in the state flew to Utah Wednesday to aid in the fire fighting efforts out west — several of whom are from the Tri-County area, according to Daniel Boone National Forest Public Affairs Specialist Kimberly Morgan.
The firefighters gathered in London Wednesday morning prior to their departure.
There were 40 firefighters, comprised of two 20-person inter-agency crews, who responded to the call that came from the National Incident Command Center requesting help.
“The call came in around 3 p.m. on Tuesday,” said Fire Cache Manager Matt Dean.
“It is not unusual for Kentucky firefighters to get called out to other states like this,” Morgan said.
Firefighters met at the Southern Area Incident Support Cache (SAK) in London for staging and briefing. The Southern Area Incident Support Cache is a part of a national system of inter-agency support caches designed for the storage of firefighting supplies and equipment. The cache is located on the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky.
Crew members included firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service (Daniel Boone National Forest and Land Between the Lakes), the National Park Service (Cumberland Gap) and the Kentucky Division of Forestry.
“Once the crews arrive in Utah, they will likely be assigned to multiple locations in the western U.S. to supplement local firefighting efforts,” Morgan said, adding that there were currently fire fighting efforts in California, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.”
After gathering gear from the cache,the crews were briefed by Forest Service Fire Management Officer Leif Meadows.
“Basically I am briefing them on what to expect from the fuels in the area,” Meadows said.
“When he says fuels, he means what kind of vegetation that is going to burn out there,” Morgan explained. Meadows also briefed firefighters on safety and what to expect after arriving.
After being briefed, firefighters traveled by two buses to Knoxville for their flight to Utah.
“These are some of the most highly-trained firefighters in the state; they are trained for different types of support possibilities and will be sent wherever they are needed once they reach Utah,” Morgan said.
“These guys are trained to do a job and that’s what they are going to do,” Dean said.
Firefighters will be gone for a two weeks before returning home.