Kentucky Firefighters Battle California Wildfire

Posted at 3:47 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-07 15:47:10-04

(LEX 18) It has been 13 days since the Kentucky Division of Forestry sent two crews of firefighters out west to help fight the raging flames. Wednesday is their last day on the lines. More will likely head west as the fires continue.

The crews there have been battling steep terrain, quick ignitions, and Sequoia trees and Ponderosa Pines that are 100-150 feet tall.

Thirty-six from the Kentucky Division of Forestry have been out in Yosemite National Park, and in the past few days, they moved closer to the flames.

"They have been in a Spike Camp which is not actually a base camp," said Michael Froelich, the Assistant Fire Chief of the Kentucky Division of Forestry. "They’ve been experiencing sleeping out in tents on the ground."

Firefighters say that temperatures are as hot as 120 degrees with heat index and flames are reaching 120 feet in the air. 

Amazingly, all the firefighters volunteered to take on the challenge. 

"We have to walk three miles with 45 pounds on our back in 45 minutes and if you pass that pack test you’re able to go out west and fight fire," said Froelich.

He said everyone is willing to sacrifice time to go out west, especially since crews from those states helped Kentucky in years past.

Even Froelich hopes to go out this summer for his 12th year to help fill the seemingly endless need.

The first crews totaling about 40 firefighters are scheduled to return home to Kentucky on Friday and more will likely head west as the fires continue.