Mississippi helps out with Texas fires - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi helps out with Texas fires

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As the wildfires continue to burn in Texas, more than 1,200 firefighters are working around the clock as well as countless crews and some of them are right out of the Magnolia State.

"Whether it's accounting, logistics, planning or actual attack," said Russell Bozeman with the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

Bozeman says so far 39 Mississippians have been sent to lend a hand in battling the fires burning in Bastrop just outside the state capitol of Austin. The damage left behind is continuing to grow with more than 34,000 acres scotched and about 1,400 homes destroyed.

"They've been in a pro longed drought probably for 18 months," said Firewise Coordinator Leslie Blackwell.

It's a scene Blackwell just got back from.

"When you've got a fire front several miles across and the fire is a 40, 50, 100 feet tall, it's tough," said Blackwell

He's been to Texas three times since April helping to battle fires and says the biggest challenge is having more fires than people, combined with limited resources.

"You're not fighting fire, you're chasing fire and it gets so big you can't cover everything you need to cover," said Blackwell.

Mississippi workers, like Blackwell are spending two weeks at a time in the face of the fires. In addition to manpower, the state also sent 30 pieces of heavy equipment to the lone star state ranging from dozers to pickup trucks.

"People recognize that Mississippi does as much as we possibly can to help," said Bozeman.

With all of the efforts being federally activated, helping out doesn't cost Mississippi a dime thanks to reimbursements for time and equipment.

Meanwhile, those helping out return with much more than just a sense of accomplishment.

"You come back with a healthy appreciation for the way they fight fire in a different place," said Blackwell.

"You can't buy that training," said Bozeman. "It is great hands on experience to help them stay qualified and give them ability to better handle situations that arise here in this state."

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