APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) As you can imagine– the western wildfires have left many needing assistance and some of our state’s first responders are helping out.
“The wildfires almost look like hell on earth and its a scary situation to be in,” says Jon Kellerman. He is an expert in wildfires services as a wildland instructor at theFox Valley Technical College.
Nearly four million acres have gone up in flames across 12 western states and 35 people have reportedly died in these blazes.
Kellerman says, “What we’re looking at are extremely dry conditions, really hot conditions and then really high winds.”
These fires particularly difficult to control is that they are crown fires.
Kellerman says, “Crown fires get into the canopy of the trees, and once the fire is in the canopy of the trees, you could have one-hundred-foot plus flame heights and it’s extremely hot. You can’t even get close to it. You’re using aerial suppression whether it’s water or retardant. The water would cool the flames down and take that heat away and the retardant would take the fuel away.”
As these deadly wildfires continue to burn across several western states, help from Wisconsin is on the way.
Kellerman says, “We had quite a few students go out this year whether it was South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. All those states where they have a high fire occurrence.”
Richard Lietz, is with the Forestry Division of the Wisconsin DNR and says, “We currently have staff working on fires in California, Colorado, and Oregon.”
Steve Hansen is with the Wisconsin American Red Cross and says, “We have 18 Wisconsin volunteers that have deployed.”
As these blazes burn through towns, thousands are left with nothing but scorched houses and Wisconsin is there to help.
Hansen says, “The American Red Cross provides basic needs, sheltering, making sure that they have a roof over their heads, clothing, medication, and financial assistance.
“The American Red Cross has in its care over 30,000 people that have been displaced from this disaster so it’s just a huge huge number of people,” says Hansen.
Lietz says, “Our staff is primarily filling incident management team jobs or fireline leadership roles.”
By providing support with these wildfires, Wisconsin’s first responders say they’ll receive far more than they give.
Lietz says, “By going out west, hopefully, our staff can bring that leadership expertise back to the state and help us become a better agency.”
Hansen says, “His volunteers can do great things for so many people and that gives me a great feeling of gratification.”
In 2013, Wisconsin experienced its largest wildfire in more than 33 years, the Germann Road Fire. This blaze consumed more than 7400 acres.
The Northeast Wisconsin Region of the American Red Cross needs donations and volunteers to provide support to those suffering through this disaster.