MS Forestry Commission sends five member Strike Force to fight O - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

MS Forestry Commission sends five member Strike Force to fight Okla. fires

Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT
Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT
Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT
Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT
Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT Five member strike force going to help fight wildfires in Oklahoma. Source: WLBT
PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A team of five brave men with the Mississippi Forestry Commission is headed to Oklahoma to help battle a fire that's consumed over 570 square miles of land.

"It would be, you know, Rankin County on fire. Not just 100 acres on fire, but the whole county," said Mississippi Forestry Commission Fire Chief Randy Giachelli. "Can you imagine evacuating Rankin County? Because I can't."

(Note: Chief Giachelli's statement proved a point, but was somewhat exaggerated. The fire in Oklahoma spans 365 thousand acres; Rankin County is 516 thousand acres.)

The inferno has ravaged the state of Oklahoma with historic conditions fed by 50 mile per hour winds and a relative humidity in the teens.

The Strike Team will be assisting with the Rhea wildfire, the largest in the area. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Rhea wildfire had burned approximately 245 thousand acres of land, of which Oklahoma firefighters have only managed to contain about 3 percent.

The Forestry Commission actually already sent a strike team of eight last month, and still has a few people in Oklahoma.

Ben Vanderford was a part of a strike team in Oklahoma last year.

"We're all kind of in one big fire family, and with this Southern Compact, we just go to help whatever states are in need," said Vanderford. "They would do the same for us."

The team on its way has veterans like Vanderford, but also has people like Dustin Barnett, on his first fire deployment.

"Everybody that works here, it's what we love to do," said Barnett. "It's what we enjoy doing. It's an experience."

The Mississippi Forestry Commission has special training using heavy machinery to battle fires - something not all Departments are well versed in.

READ MORE: Mississippi Forestry Commission Hosts Heavy Equipment Training Academy to Help Fight Fires

"We'll have to use multiple tractors in tandem to make real wide fire lanes, to try to keep these fires from jumping, with the open area and the wind blowing on them," said Vanderford.

"100 foot flame lengths, and 50 mile an hour wind...that's something you do not get in front of," said Giachelli. "We'll leave that to the airplanes, and let the airplanes slow the fire down, and we'll corral the fire as best we can."

The Strike Team stops the fire from spreading, while fire trucks and helicopters spray the flames down with water.

"Teamwork is everything. Team work will save your life out there," added Chief Giachelli. "We watch each other's backs 100 percent of the time, in the state of Mississippi, and when we cross state lines. We're going to be very careful, and watch what we're doing, and help Oklahoma any way we can."

The strike team is on a two-week long deployment, but could extend their stay if necessary.

Copyright 2018 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly