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Monday, April 4, 2016

Volunteers Across the State Made Us #KSPROUD

Another guest post from one of my friends, Alan Black who traveled two hours to help with the Anderson Creek Fire.  Unlike Dylan who was there are Day 1, things were more controlled and Alan and his crew were there to watch hot spots and let the guys who had been fighting for days get a much needed break.  I was impressed with his view of things.  Alan is also a Volunteer Firefighter who left behind his family to help out as best he could.

On Thursday afternoon March 24th, we got a call that Butler County Task Force 3 was putting together trucks and personnel to mobilize to Medicine Lodge. Saturday morning around 4 a.m, my partner and I left El Dorado for the 2 hour trip down there to relieve our Friday crew.

It's amazing what goes through your mind on your way to a disaster of that scale.
What's it going to look like?
How does a small community handle an influx of that many people and vehicles?
We arrived around 6:20 a.m and prepared for our 12 hour shift on our truck.

Fire trucks, tankers and semi's lined the streets in front of the command post as day shift and night shift strolled in and out of the building with night shift telling the day shift to have a safe and productive day.

The command post room was filled to the gills for the daily briefing on containment and safety concerning the use of the Blackhawks for water drops on that day and Division assignments.

We strolled down to the church for breakfast and to grab a sack lunch for the day's work, being told "Take as much as you need.  We have plenty for you all."

As we proceeded the 20 miles west to Sun City, we were finally getting a bird's eye view of the fire stricken area. Road graders had been used to clear road ditches of all grass and trees to try and stop the fire to no avail.  It still jumped the highway.

We ventured south of Sun City over to the Gyp mine where they had a flare up the day before. My partner and I met up with a Gorham Fire District truck and we toured the area where we would watching hot spots.

One thing that stood out was you couldn't tell that none of these fire fighters had never met or even worked together before. We were all there for one common goal and that was fire containment and structure protection.

Later in the day, we got our first chance to watch the Blackhawks drop water on hot spots in the valleys in our division. It was very interesting to watch considering we never see anything like that in Kansas.

As we looked around, it was blackened ground as far as the eyes could see.  Fences and power lines burnt and laid on the ground. We had the chance to meet up with some of the local fire fighters working on their trucks from a rough 48-60 hour fire fight, and with local ranchers as we traveled their properties checking out fire lines.
The message was always the same "we greatly appreciate everything you guys are doing for us and the communities around us" and one rancher even offered up his bunk house for fire fighters to stay in.

As our shift wrapped up, we did a quick debriefing and headed back to the church for supper with another chance to visit with more locals. Despite everything that that community had been through everybody seemed to be up beat and positive, all grateful for all of us being there. One thing I mentioned in a previous post on Barber County 2016 fire was that the fire fighters are truly the blessed and thankful ones. The hospitality and the amount of food that they kept out for us and the 2 bunk stations was absolutely phenomenal.

Sitting in the church you couldn't help but noticed the stage full of donations to the community and all the extra stuff that was donated for the fire fighters who ended up staying the night in the area.

All we hear about in America anymore is how bad it is, but being part of this fire and seeing everything it just reaffirmed that rural America is still alive and kicking where neighbors help neighbors and everybody was working together for the same cause and fire departments come from all across the state of Kansas from border to border to this small community.

Here are a couple of fun pictures Alan caught driving out to the fire that we just had to share.  ;) -KFM


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