Janice Morse reports:
Eight firefighters from Butler County are doing their part to help combat the devastating Black Forest fire in Colorado – and, at the same time, they’re learning tactics that could be put to use for any major disaster that could strike here, Monroe Fire Chief John Centers said Monday.
“This is not an endeavor to learn how to fight forest fires. This is an endeavor to learn how to handle large-scale incidents,” Centers said. In such incidents, emergency personnel are divided into various specialties, such as planning, operations, finance and safety, he explained.
The local firefighters who went to Colorado are from the Butler County Incident Management Assistance Team, a group that can be deployed to assist with major incidents across the nation, Centers said. The team includes representatives of most Butler County fire departments, along with a handful of Warren County agencies.
On Saturday, federal officials activated the local team to go to Colorado, where a fast-moving wildfire killed at least two people and destroyed hundreds of homes. The fire, which spread across at least 25 square miles, has become the most destructive blaze in the state’s history.
The Butler team sent eight of its members, hailing from the cities of Monroe, Middletown and Oxford, along with Ross, West Chester, Liberty and Fairfield townships.
“They are doing great and learning a great deal from some of the best folks in our business,” Centers posted on his Facebook page Monday.
The Butler team has been working 15-hour days and sleeping in tents as nighttime temperatures dip into the 40s. “It’s a shame to have work under these circumstances, but they understand why the residents love this area so much,” Centers wrote.
The Butler team is expected to return home late Thursday night, Centers said, adding, “God bless the Colorado residents and the firefighters who protect them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story
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