Kentucky Firefighters Come Home From Battling California Fires

Posted at 3:19 PM, Aug 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-10 15:19:17-04

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky (LEX 18) The flames continue to rage out in the western part of the country, and more than 100 Kentucky firefighters have been out west fighting the flames. Friday morning, the first wave of firefighters returned home.

The group came home from two weeks of fighting the raging Ferguson fire in California. 

"We kind of protected a little subdivision type vacation rental place there and we cut hand lines, moved trees and fuel around that area to try and protect for when the fire got there," said Forest Ranger Technician Lem Johnson.

Johnson has fought 15 other national fires, but he said that this was one of the most intense fires he’s ever seen.

"When the fire front did come you know, it was in the trees tips coming at us," said Johnson.

Kristian Pickering, the only female on the trip, told LEX 18 that contrary to what most people think, they didn’t use much water. 

"We had to do a lot of dry mopping with tools so that can be difficult because when the stumps burn, they burn for days and they’re really, really hot," said Pickering. 

For two weeks, the Kentucky firefighters slept in 8 foot-wide tents until one night, fire chased them out of their temporary nylon homes. 

"This particular fire, it jumped a highway and it kind of burned up towards-near our camping area and cut us off from that so we weren’t able to go back and get our gear, and our clothes, and our tent for a couple days," said Pickering.

Despite the heat, danger, and 16-hours shifts, the firefighters said that the people are why they do it and are willing to go out again.