Florida firefighters answer the call for help from western states

3:52 PM, Aug 16, 2012   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - Florida is mobilizing more than 60 firefighters to answer the call for help from western states battling wildfires.

About 40 of the firefighters are in Idaho where nearly a dozen big fires are spreading fast and forcing evacuations.

Those firefighters operate two of Florida "Attack Hand Crews," which specialize in tactics at the front lines of wildfires. They use shovels, axes and rakes to dig fire lines that help prevent the flames from spreading.

Florida Forest Service Director Jim Karels says Florida participates in a forest fire compact that allows states to call for extra help when they need it.

Karels say sometimes firefighters get just 12-hours notice before responding and then they're usually gone for more than two weeks.

"A lot of times you go 17 days sleeping outside and in those western mountains you have a lot of hiking, a lot of really arduous conditions. If you're down in the desert it's very hot. They're qualified. They're in shape. They're some of the best firefighters in the country. I'm proud of them. They do a very good job."

Florida Forest Service firefighters are currently battling wildfires in seven western states.

Dave Heller

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