Reporting Jessica Kartalija
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The military is sending in four specially-equipped planes to help fight the fire in Arizona. While firefighters in Maryland don’t have to deal with wildfires on that scale, they still have to train at the same level as hotshot crews.
Jessica Kartalija has more.
Wildfires in Maryland are rare and much smaller than those in the desert southwest, where 19 members of an elite firefighting crew were killed.
Monte Mitchell is the state fire supervisor with the Maryland DNR forest service. He says while Maryland doesn’t have state-level hotshot crews, firefighters are trained with the same skills and to the same level.
“Here in Maryland, though, we have better access to fires and we can get our engines right to the scene of an emergency, whereas out west, you’ll be hiking miles before you can get to the fire,” Mitchell said.
The climate in Maryland isn’t as dry as it is in the desert southwest, but firefighters are equipped to handle fires in this type of environment.
A wet spring and summer has meant a minimal fire season so far. Maryland fires run mostly along the ground in deciduous forests and tend to burn out in heavy humidity and moisture, but firefighters across the country take the same safety precautions.
“We all carry what’s called a fire shelter and that shelter is carried in the back of the pack on the firefighters and is used as a last resort if a firefighter gets trapped in an emergency,” Mitchell said.
The names of the firefighters killed in Arizona will be added to a firefighters’ memorial in Emmitsburg.