Tennesseans on the fire line battling blazes in 7 Western States

Aug 13, 2018

Credit USDA.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Dozens of Tennessee firefighters are battling wildfires out West.

The Tennessee Interagency Coordination Center dispatches Tennessee based firefighters to other states as part of mutual state and federal compacts. The Center says there are currently about 60 Tennesseans fighting fires in other states.

There are just 7 of the state’s firefighters working the well-publicized fires in California. There are 17 Tennesseans fighting blazes in Oregon and another 13 in Washington State. Tennessee crews are also currently deployed to Colorado, Idaho, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and Georgia.

Center Assistant Manager Kymberli Hoffman says Tennessee’s resources for fighting wildland fires are getting stretched pretty thin.

“It has been hotter and dryer with more fires. …typically those fires get larger and each fire takes longer and longer to put out. And sometimes we have cuts in funding, so we don’t have as many firefighter available resources.”

Fortunately, the fire season out West usually peaks in late summer, allowing Tennessee firefighters to get home in time for the South’s fire season in the Fall.

Hoffman says a wildland fire crews leave home knowing they’re going to be gone for quite a while.

“So generally it’s 16 days. If they sign an extension it could be for a total assignment of 21 days, with travel on each side, or 30 days with travel on each side.”

The Tennessee Interagency Coordination Center also dispatches teams from Tennessee for other emergencies, including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados.

In turn, other states and federal agencies agree to send teams to Tennessee when the need arises.