Alaska wildfires: Firefighters and community appreciation
Alaska is getting lots of help when it comes to fighting wildfires across the state and many Alaskans are thanking them for their help.
Tim Mowry with the Alaska Division of Forestry said there are currently 2,626 people from the Lower 48 and Puerto Rico working on fires in Alaska and more are expected.
"They send the order, we gladly accept the order and board whatever aircraft they have chartered for us and head north," said Superintendent of Montana's Flathead Hotshots, Shawn Borgen.
The latest crews arrived Friday afternoon, including five from California that will spend the night at University of Alaska system dorms before heading out to assignments in the morning.
Mowry said the state is considered a hot spot for wildfires, while the rest of the country is experiencing a slow start to the season.
"Fortunately for Alaska, fire season in the Lower 48 has been extremely slow this season and getting crews and overhead personnel up to Alaska has not been a problem," Mowry said. "If things had been busy in the [Lower 48], Alaska would be in much more dire shape because we wouldn’t be getting nearly the number of people we have been getting."
Mowry said crews will typically spend two weeks in the state before rotating out. It’s an effort that doesn’t go unnoticed by the communities they’re helping.
Great Alaska Adventures, one of the many businesses expressing gratitude to firefighters, posted signs for those battling the Swan Lake Fire.
"We believe it's important to honor those that are putting their lives on the line for our place, our homes," said co-owner Kathy Haley.
Firefighters working on the blaze say the gestures are helping them power through the job.
"That's great 'cause we are away from our families for extended periods of time, and to know they appreciate the work the folks out on the line are doing really is warming to the heart to know that you're supported in your efforts," said Jonathan Ashford, afire public information officer.
The next round of fire crews are due in Alaska on Saturday.
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