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June 04, 2008   Email to Friend 

AFC FIREFIGHTERS RETURN FROM TEXAS WILDFIRES
Mike Kyser
(334) 240-9357
June 04, 2008

Alabama firefighters confer with peers while combating Texas firefighters.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The last of eight crews of Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) wildland firefighters returned home to Alabama last week after battling wildfires in Texas where more than a million acres have burned since the first of the year.

Since Feb. 23, a total of 51 AFC personnel were dispatched to Texas under the terms of the Southern Fire Compact, a mutual aid agreement between the Southern states in case of severe wildfire conditions.

Joining crews from several other states, the Alabama firefighters assisted the Texas Forest Service with initial attack, working with heavy wildland fire suppression equipment (bulldozers) in fighting wildfires that threatened homes and businesses.

Extremely dry conditions, high winds and low relative humidity values have contributed to the on-going critical fire situation in Texas. Since the beginning of the year, a total of 8,761 wildfires have consumed 1.2 million acres in the state. To date, firefighters have saved 13,839 structures, while 655 have been destroyed.

The returning AFC wildland firefighters include: Jason Gilikin and Richard Johnson, Baldwin County; Jimbo Robinson, Chambers; Shane Woodham, Cherokee; Josh Benefield and Nick Jordan, Clay; James Barker and Richard McCain, Cleburne; Keith Stephens, Coffee; Travis Chesser, Covington; David Kelley,Crenshaw; Bobby Matthews, Cullman; Ethan Barrett and Jim Junkin, Hale; Todd Taggart, Houston; Jeff Bradford, Lamar; Walter Nolan, Lowndes; Ashley Haden, Russell; Ken Harbison, Shelby; and Brady Baird, Washington.

In addition to supplying firefighters, Alabama assisted Texas with experienced fire control supervisors. These task force leaders, who managed several fire suppression units, included: Michael King, Butler; Benji Elmore, Clarke; Keith Blansett, Colbert; Tom Lang, Dallas; Philip Smith, Etowah; Ken Colburn, Shelby; and Derrick Heckman, St. Clair.


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