Kansas Forest Service deploys to Colorado Fire

Posted: Updated:
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The 416 Fire in Colorado has doubled in size and thousands of people are evacuating. The fire is so massive in southwestern Colorado, that crews there have asked for outside support.

Some of that support is coming from Kansas. The Kansas Forest Service sent 5 people to the fire near Durango. They also had a meteorologist and Public Information Officer that just returned to Kansas after helping in the firefight.

While they battle the fire, their families are watching and waiting for their safe return.

“As a professional, I know he’s in good hands,” said Eric Ward with the Kansas Forest Service. He watches these fires for the safety of his firefighters there.

But this time, it’s personal. His son is one of the firefighters out on his first wildfire fight.

“He completed the training last year and has been involved in some low-key stuff here, locally,” Ward said.  

Extreme heat and dry weather have created a tinderbox to the west. Fire danger has been at an all-time high – and the pictures Josh Ward have sent back have been powerful.

As of Monday, 22,000 acres burned in the 416 fire and 22,000 acres had burned.

Ward admits watching from far away makes him nervous about his son’s safety – though he knows his safety and training were exemplary.

“I am nervous, I told my parents just a couple of days ago that I kind of have a better understanding now of their reactions. When 35 years ago their little boy moved away,” he said.

The crew in Kansas typically works from 6am to 10pm each day, and should stay out there for about two weeks unless the fire dies down earlier.

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