Wis. National Guard assists in containing wildfire
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
DOUGLAS COUNTY - Helicopter crews from the Wisconsin National Guard were called in to stop the fire from spreading and destroying more homes.
"It was pretty tough to see because some of the houses were completely gone," said Lieutenant Colonel Steve Watkins with the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
His Black Hawk crew were on a mission to stop the largest wildfire in northern Wisconsin in three decades it.
Two helicopters with large buckets flew 60 trips over lakes to pick up 35,000 gallons of water and dropped it on hot spots all over Douglas and Bayfield Counties
"There are risks and that’s why we go out and do training" said Lt. Col. Watkins
The massive fire destroyed 50 buildings including homes and garages and scorched more than 9,000 acres of forest. The DNR reports saving more than 70 buildings in the fire’s path.
Wisconsin doesn’t see a lot of wildfires so the work being done by the Black Hawk crews is not only unique but challenging.
"To put 600 gallons in a specific spot is pretty challenging," said Lt. Col. Watkins.
While the hours are long and the works is hard, Watkins calls it rewarding.
"This is one of the great things about being in the national guard, we serve the people of Wisconsin."