Four major fires taxing Benton County volunteer firefighters

Four major fires taxing Benton County volunteer firefighters »Play Video
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. - We were promised a rough fire season and we're getting it, four major fires in less than a week.

For volunteers, it's twice that, juggling their day job and in their spare time, saving lives.

Back to back to back to back fires, two in one day last week. Two in one day this week.

Whether it's 500 acres or 5,000 acres, the side of a hill or the side of a road, started by a toy, a train, or a thunderbolt. Benton County firefighters have barely had a chance to breathe.

Capt. Devin Helland said, "Everybody else is running out of a burning building and here we are running into it."

In all, close to 200 firefighters battled this recent round of fires, beginning with the Clodfelter fire that started last Tuesday afternoon.

Just when they thought they'd caught a break, another fire in Finley.
Less than a week later, Finley was once again ground zero for trouble. Crews rushed in once again only to rush out to Jump Off Joe.

Volunteers will continue to be out here on the front lines well after the flames are gone, sometimes for days, keeping an eye on hot spots, mopping up dangerous areas, continuing to keep you safe.

Like many local departments, these first responders are mostly volunteers. Risking their time and their lives to keep our community safe.

Volunteer Jason Templeton said, "Something we love to do. We love to help people. It's our way of doing it."

Some have asked how to help. Crews tell KEPR they're always looking for donations and more volunteers.

Helland continued, "When the tones go off, you get to leave whatever you're doing and go help a complete stranger and you don't get paid, so come on! I mean it's a tough sell."

For Jason Templeton it was a no-brainer. He wants to make firefighting a career. Volunteering helped get his foot in the door.

"It's an adrenaline rush at first, and then you kinda gotta calm down and cool down and get your thoughts processed," he said.

The right attitude, especially for someone willing to help us all for free.
But even the seasoned veterans are nervous about what we've seen so far.

Helland said, "If this is what's to come, it's going to be a long summer for volunteer firefighters out here."

And it's just the start of Fire Season 2013.

Not a single home has been lost or even damaged in these four wildfires, though many were threatened at one point or another.

More importantly, no one's been hurt.