June 3, 2008

State of Alabama
Press Release: Forestry Commission, Alabama

AFC Firefighters Return from Texas Wildfires

The last of eight crews of Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) wildland firefighters returned home to Alabama last week after battling wildfires in Texas where over a million acres have burned since the first of the year. Since February 23, a total of 51 AFC personnel were dispatched to Texas under the terms of the Southern Fire Compact, a mutual aid agreement between the southern states in case of severe wildfire conditions. Joining crews from several other states, the Alabama firefighters assisted the Texas Forest Service with initial attack, working with heavy wildland fire suppression equipment (bulldozers) in fighting wildfires that threatened homes and businesses.

Extremely dry conditions, high winds, and low relative humidity values have contributed to the on-going critical fire situation in Texas. Since the beginning of the year, a total of 8,761 wildfires have consumed 1,276,670 acres in the state. To date, firefighters have saved 13,839 structures, while 655 have been destroyed.

The returning AFC wildland firefighters, who are now available for interviews with their local media, include: Jason Gilikin and Richard Johnson (Baldwin County), Jimbo Robinson (Chambers County), Shane Woodham (Cherokee County), Josh Benefield and Nick Jordan (Clay County), James Barker and Richard McCain (Cleburne County), Keith Stephens (Coffee County), Travis Chesser (Covington County), David Kelley (Crenshaw County), Bobby Matthews (Cullman County), Ethan Barrett and Jim Junkin (Hale County), Todd Taggart (Houston County), Jeff Bradford (Lamar County), Walter Nolan (Lowndes County), Ashley Haden (Russell County), Ken Harbison (Shelby County), and Brady Baird (Washington County).

In addition to supplying firefighters, Alabama assisted Texas with experienced fire control supervisors. These task force leaders, who managed several fire suppression units, included: Michael King (Butler County), Benji Elmore (Clarke County), Keith Blansett (Colbert County), Tom Lang (Dallas County), Philip Smith (Etowah County), Ken Colburn (Shelby County), and Derrick Heckman (St. Clair County).

  • For more information, visit http://forestry.alabama.gov
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