Delaware Firefighters Help Battle Wildfire in Alaska - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Firefighters Help Battle Wildfire in Alaska

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DOVER, Del.- Firefighters from across Delaware are helping to put out a fire in Alaska that has been burning since June.

The 20-member team was called to assist because firefighters in other nearby states are too busy putting out wildfires in other parts of the country.

James Dowd is a Conservation Technician with the Delaware State Forest Service. He helped to mobilize the team. A request came from the National Interagency Fire Center, based in Boise, Idaho.

"They kind of consume all the crews that are local to the area and once they do that they start reaching out to other states and we happen to have a crew available," said Dowd, who has fought wildfires in Alaska in previous years.

Dowd said safety is the number one concern.

"Everybody takes their (fire) shelter with them in the hopes they never have to use it. That's a last resort. That's when you've exhausted all your efforts to get out of the way of the fire," said Dowd.

The team left Smyrna on Friday. Dowd said it is not just men who are fighting the blaze. Mother-daughter team Jennifer and Amber DiCarlo of Felton are fighting fires right next to the men.  
Members will join more than 600 personnel to help put out a fire that has consumed more than 64,000 acres in Alaska.

"They work anywhere from 14 to16 hour days. A lot of times you have to hike in to get to the mountain," said Dowd.

To stay safe the crew wears protective gear.

"These pants are heat-resistant," explained Dowd. "If it gets direct flames it does char, it's just meant to get radiant heat off of your body. Same with this shirt. It's a lightweight material. You couldn't do the work that for example structure firefighters do, you'd be exhausted and dead in 20 minutes. It has to be light enough for you to work all day in."

Crews have to also carry no more than 65 pounds of gear.

It is all to keep them safe and bring them back home to Delaware.

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