ALABAMA WILDFIRE FIGHTERS RETURN FROM WILDFIRE DUTY
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- All Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) wildland firefighters are now back home from western wildfire details. The final team returned to Alabama on Aug. 22 from the state of Texas where almost a million and a half acres have burned since the first of the year.
Beginning in mid-February, a total of 78 AFC personnel (12 separate crews) were dispatched to assist the Texas Forest Service. Joining crews from several other states, the Alabama firefighters worked with heavy wildland fire suppression equipment (bulldozers) to protect homes and businesses that were threatened by wildfires. In addition to supplying firefighters, the AFC also sent eight experienced fire control supervisors and task force leaders to Texas.
Meanwhile, another team of Alabama firefighters returned home earlier in August after battling wildfires in the Los Padres National Forest, located in the coastal mountains of central California. Nine Commission associates paired up with 11 USDA Forest Service personnel to make up a 20-person interagency crew, while two other AFC personnel served as crew bosses for other crews. Five additional Commission associates served as strike team leaders and safety officers in California.
"So far this year, the Alabama Forestry Commission has responded generously to requests for aid by other states and the Forest Service, sending not only crews, equipment, and individual resources to Texas and California, but assistance to Virginia as well. Any time other states have made requests for firefighting personnel, the AFC firefighters have stepped up to the plate. I'm really proud of our employees," said State Forester Linda Casey. "In such cases of extreme wildfire conditions, a reciprocal agreement exists wherein the states offer firefighting support to each other. In the unfortunate event that Alabama needed help with wildfires, these other states would provide us with assistance."
Those AFC wildland firefighters working Texas detail during July and August included: David Davis, Autauga County; Jason Barrett, Baldwin County; Jarred Kornegay, Bibb County; Terry Helms, Blount County; Michael King, Butler County; Gene Lyons, Calhoun County; James "Moto" Williams, Chambers County; Shane Woodham, Cherokee County; Victor Howell, Conecuh County; Milton Ellington, Coosa County; Travis Chesser, Covington County; John Knighten, Crenshaw County; Bruce Bowden and Steve Snuggs, Dale County; Jeff Keener, DeKalb County; Terry Ezzell, Franklin County; Ethan Barrett, Hale County; Jeff Bradford, Lamar County; Mitch Craft, Lawrence County; Joel Bartlettt, Marion County; Roy Maye , Monroe County; Johnny Mims, Montgomery County; Ken Colburn and Ken Harbison, Shelby County; Derrick Heckman and Scott Sweat, St. Clair County; and Rusty Smith, Sumter County. Also serving as a situation unit leader in Texas was Lou Hyman from the state office in Montgomery.
For more information about the firefighting and forest management services provided by the Alabama Forestry Commission, visit the agency Web site at www.forestry.alabama.gov