While the Gulf States are dealing with the aftermath of wind and water destruction wrought by Hurricane Laura, Colorado is dealing with an unprecedented outbreak of enormous fires.
The Mississippi Forestry Commission sent a team of 20 firefighters to Colorado earlier this week to assist in wildfire suppression efforts. The Pine Gulch Fire, where the Mississippi team was sent, is now the largest in the state’s history, consuming more than 139,000 acres as of Friday. More than 900 firefighters are on the scene.
Colorado had seven active wildfires Monday that collectively burned more than 304 square miles, fueled by abnormally dry conditions and hot weather that are part of a 20-year shift in Colorado’s climate toward greater aridity, The Denver Post reported Monday.
“We appreciate our employees volunteering to be part of these efforts to help our state and federal partners in Colorado,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester, in a statement. “Fighting the destructive power of wildfire means our wildland firefighters are working long hours in extreme conditions protecting people’s lives, homes and forestland.”
The members of the 20-person team are trained in wildland firefighting tactics and work together to help contain wildfires by constructing a fire line with hand tools. The Mississippi team will be on the ground for at least another 10 days, and they could see an extension of that time based on need. The crew names will be released upon their return.
“In addition to assisting our state and federal partners, our crew members will gain valuable experience that will make them more efficient and effective wildland firefighters when they return home,” Bozeman said. “We are proud of our employees’ dedication and service and look forward to their safe return to Mississippi.”