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Jefferson County Wildfire Update

We continue to follow a Wildfire in Jefferson County that’s burnt thousands of acres of land, requiring crews from multiple Counties to assist. Ian Critchlow, Asst. Chief of the Marienville Vol. Fire Co. saying: “This one’s the worst I’ve ever seen in 23 years of being a firefighter.” That’s what a number of Firefighters tell us, including David Smith – the Sigel Volunteer Fire Department Chief. Chief Smith saying: “This is probably the biggest one, uh, in my position that I’ve ever dealt with up in this area. A fire of this size, it’s probably been, uh, relatively to a hundred years from what I’ve been told by the local, since they’ve seen a fire of this size in this particular area.”

The fire began before one o’clock Wednesday afternoon. Chief Smith adding: “Yesterday’s report was in excess of a thousand acres. Um, we’re having conflicting reports on that total amount, but uh, uh, we believe it’s, uh, between one and 2000 acres at this time.” He tells us crews stayed at the scene through the night to protect this building. He says Thursday they have about ten fire units and a number of ems personnel on scene.

Asst. Chief Ian Critchlow adding: “Well, we used a lot of resources yesterday beyond what we already had and pulled from several other Counties to assist with the home company here.” He took us for a four-wheeler ride on trails high up on the ridge. Critchlow saying: “Several hours. About 10, 12 hours yesterday. Then we’re going on six hours right now, today.” Hours of grueling work and staying on your toes. Critchlow adding: “It’s very, very tiring, especially working in everything that’s burnt. You gotta constantly be on the lookout for any tree that’s burnt and a lot of tops are falling off because the trees are burnt. A lot of walking from ridge line, the ridge line, cutting the fire breaks and putting out the hotspots.”

Even in the areas where they’ve put it out, smoke still rises and fire crops up here and there. Smith tells us as far as damage goes, the fire’s primarily affected the woods. As for the cause, Chief Smith says: “It’s undetermined at this time. The forestry investigators are here and they’re going to investigate the origination of the fire.” He says they hope to have this wrapped up sometime on Thursday, but that’s only if the winds cooperate, the humidity comes down, or if we get some showers.

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