CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – It’s wildfire season, and with that comes the need for more firefighters to help fight the spread.
The U.S Forest Service is sending firefighters out to the Northeast and Midwest, including some from West Virginia.
Peak wildfire season usually runs from August to November when hot, dry winds are most frequent.
States like California, Colorado and Oregon all have large fires currently burning.
“When you go out west, the climate is completely different. Things are a lot drier out there. They have relative humidity throughout the summer. So, they have a lot of dry lightning that starts fires,” John Fry, Forest Management Officer.
During wildfire seasons, the U.S. Forest Service hires qualified state employees like firefighters or people who meet qualifications to help fight the fires.
Currently, nine people from West Virginia are out on assignment. Fry leaves for Colorado Tuesday.
“We hire EMTs that work for the local departments. We hire them, we send them out for two weeks and then they assist us with fire response or medical emergencies,” Fry said.
Right now, there is a shortage of federal firefighters which causes workers and foresters to be cross-trained in multiple areas.
“When we have fires, we cross-train with them to be able to go support fires on the forest or we send them out to the state or the national forest that need additional resources,” Fry said.
How long firefighters are out on assignment depends on the severity of the fire. After 21 days, workers have to be sent back to their home unit.