GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST, MT – Fifteen West Virginia foresters and firefighters are in Montana for a second week helping battle the Miner Paradise Complex blaze. So far the flames have consumed more than 11,000 acres in the Gallatin National Forest in the south central part of the state.
Ten foresters and five firefighters arrived last Monday. Leslie Fitzwater with the Division of Forestry said the conditions are difficult.
“The fires are very dangerous. It’s very hard work. It’s very hot work.”
Because the fires out west are so much different than the ones we see here in West Virginia, Fitzwater said it’s important that those who volunteer to help battle the flames out west have the proper training.
“We offer classes in West Virginia and we also train with other states to make sure our folks are certified and ready to go out and fight fires.”
In fact, Fitzwater said crews from West Virginia are highly rated by their peers.
“We always get good reviews about our crews because, of course, they’re like all West Virginians,” said Fitzwater. “They’re hard workers and they enjoy the job that they do.”
Fitzwater has been in contact with several of the foresters over the past week. She said they’re are roughing it in order to keep up with the fire.
“Sometimes they have to camp out, sleep in tents. They’re in very remote areas,” according to Fitzwater. “I’ve had some of the folks tell me that they’ll wake up and there will be a dusting off snow in the morning they’re so high up elevation-wise.”
The crew is due back early next week.