Pa. firefighters prepare for trip to battle fires out west

Local

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A crew of Pennsylvania firefighters is preparing to head west to help battle the fires that are raging there.

A group of 20 firefighters makes up the crew dubbed ‘Independence’. On Monday they got together to pack up their gear and prepare for a trip to Idaho.

Daniel Miller works day to day as an equipment manager in Perry County, but he’s always excited when he gets the call to go fight fires.

“You never know really what to expect really until you get out there,” Miller said. “It’s fun. We go out and do a lot of hard work and feel good about it when we’re done.”

Jim Mechling feels that same thrill, even after 20 years of going on missions like this one.

“It’s 16-hour days. It’s hard work yes. But you’re out with a group of people that are all there for the same reason. And it’s enjoyable,” Mechling said.

This time around the crew is headed to take on the fires burning in Idaho. But, they could be moved to another area if their help is needed there more.

“The people out west appreciate you when you come out. You can’t believe the signs that are out and people are thanking you. It’s just mindblowing,” Mechling said.

The job is dangerous, but for many of them putting out flames isn’t the biggest challenge.

“Just missing your family and stuff, that’s the toughest,” Mechling said.

Katalynn Dildine is with Pa. Forest Fire Protection and helped organize things as the crew prepared for their trip Monday.

“It’s hard work. It’s hard. It’s hot, it’s tough work,” Dildine said. “They’re just trying to keep everybody safe.”

It’s that goal that keeps them going.

“It’s helping make a difference for them and I get to see places I’ve never been before either,” Miller said.

The crew will be spending two weeks out west fighting the fires and will spend two days each way driving there.

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