Forest service honors fallen wildland firefighters
They often put themselves in harm's way to save lives. Thursday, the Texas A&M Forest Service honored firefighters across the state and country who were killed in the line of duty.
Larger, more destructive wildfires are threatening the state now more than ever before. Experts say it's all driven by people moving into formerly rural areas, and weather changes. This year from Memorial Day weekend to now, is an example.
“It dried out. We grew a lot of fuel because it was growing season at that time. We grew a whole lot of fuel across the state much like it was in 2011,” Tom Boggus, Director, Texas A&M Forest Service, said.
The forest service says this time of year is a good time to remind everyone of who is on the frontlines, fighting wildfires.
“For the last 13 out of 18 years we've had a memorial service to honor the fallen wildland firefighters,” Boggus said.
The service does it as part of their Capital Area Interagency Wildfire Incident Management Academy, or firefighting training. They paused to remember, reflect on the names placed in the garden.
“We don't ever want to forget these people, volunteer firefighters and wildland firefighters. It's all about service,” Boggus said.
Chief Law Enforcement Officer Les Rogers remembers the people etched in the stones, like Charles Edgar, who died on a prescribed fire in East Texas.
“He had a helicopter that had a catastrophic engine failure and it crashed and killed him and another wildland firefighter,” Rogers said.
“We learn from every loss we've had. We make sure in the fire service that we learn from that,” Boggus said.
Officials say last week's rain definitely helped but the threat for another fire always lingers. In the meantime, they want the first responders to know, they are not taken for granted.