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Berlin man fights western wildfires

August 11, 2018

A Berlin man was part of a Bureau of Forestry team that fought the wildfires out West.

Brandon Hosselrode was one of 100 firefighters dispatched to Idaho in July. He battled wildfires for about three weeks.

Hosselrode has been dispatched to a fire once a year since 2013. The team ended up battling the Martin fire in Nevada. The Martin fire, near Paradise Valley, started July 5 and burned more than 430,000 acres. A reward is being offered for information about its cause.

Hosselrode said his crew worked to make sure the edges of the fire were cold and did not rekindle.

“That was our primary responsibility,” he said.

He said wildfires move quickly.

“More than likely you are not putting people in front of it,” he said. “They were using aircraft and dozers. That is how they are fighting those high desert fires.”

He said this fire was different because there were no trees.

“I enjoy going to learn different things on how to fight fire and gain experience and knowledge so I can use it back here on fires in Pennsylvania,” he said.

“Anytime you can go help someone out, a fellow American out, I like doing that as well. It’s devastating out there, and from what I’ve seen with the weather predictions, it is going to continue to be real bad out there until at least the better part of September.”

He said he gets to see a lot of places that he would never get to see on his own. This year they took a helicopter ride to the edge of the fire.

“They had a incident command center set up,” he said. “You never know what to expect. Sometimes we are eating MREs (meals ready to eat) and they don’t have anything set up.”

He said they pack tents and enough food and water to last two operational shifts.

“It was nice being in a camp with some amenities,” he said.

Hosselrode said that two of the guys who traveled with them were volunteer firefighters. He said that volunteers who have the required training can assist.

“I hope the weather changes for the better for the people,” he said. “You hope and pray everyone stays safe and all the firefighters who continue to be out there stay safe.”

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