Firefighters from near and far join Matts Creek fire response

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 2:59 PM EST
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NATURAL BRIDGE STATION, Va. (WDBJ) - The sun was rising over the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest as firefighters met Saturday for their morning briefing for the Matts Creek Fire.

The Stonebridge Center in Natural Bridge Station is now hosting the Incident Command Post for the Southern Area Red Team. Firefighters gathered inside at 7:00 Saturday morning. They received an update on the fire’s progress and their new assignments, along with a forecast of the conditions they could expect to encounter.

“Overnight last night, as Ops mentioned, we only got a few hundreds of an inch of rain,” said meteorologist Cody Ledbetter, “so once that wind starts kicking up here in the next hour or two, we’re really expecting things to dry out pretty quick.”

“And so today with the wind, this is a day to be sure that you know where folks are, and that you can get them out of harm’s way if necessary,” said Safety Officer Mike Cook.

Firefighters have come from near and far. We saw many from local departments, and others from across the country. A crew and their brand new truck came from Aurora, Colorado, for example.

“You know often time, whenever teams show up, it’s the worst of conditions, but it brings out the best in people, meaning us and the community and the locals and all of the cooperators,” said Incident Commander Steve Parrish.

Firefighters and members of the incident command staff are putting in long shifts, up to 16 hours a day. And they’ll do it all again each day of the firefight.