Preparing for Wildfire Season
We're at the beginning of summer now, as you know, wildfires can spark at any time during this season. DNR crews are out in Cle Elum with helicopters, taking part in annual training.
A helicopter attack, otherwise known as helitack, is the process which crews use helicopters as first strike vehicles during a wildfire.
If a wildfire were to break out, they would be first out to the incident.
"We all work for the same person, and I think it gives us a unity to go out and make things happen," said pilot Kenny Stewart.
Some of the helicopters would be used to drop water on out of control flames -- however, most are used to transport personnel, items and other support equipment to the fire lines.
This avoids firefighters having to drive through rough roads and terrain, and possibly save more land from being burned.
DNR crews take part in the exercise every year, to help minimize any chance of mistakes if the real thing were to happen.
"We need the competency," said helicopter manager trainee Jesse Boyd, "When you're working around aircrafts and aviation, it's important that the folks know what they're doing and what they're getting into, and have trained and minimized that risk."
Fortunately, no large-scale wildfires have broken out in our area, that's not keeping crews from being prepared at all times.
For now, it's a chance for crews to enjoy the weather and keep their skills sharp.
"It still puts a smile on my face," said Stewart, "23 years later, it's still fun, it's a nice view from my office."