Local firefighter on stand-by to battle western blazes

Volunteer firefighter Jeff Finn demonstrates how to use a protective fire shelter, as he awaits possible deployment to fight wildfires in the western U.S.

A local firefighter waits to hear if he will be deployed to battle wildfires in the western United States that recently claimed the lives of 19.

Jeff Finn of Oak Harbor is already prepared for a possible deployment to battle several fires that have engulfed parts of the Western U.S. Finn serves as a volunteer with the Ohio Interagency Fire Crew, one of many in the unit awaiting a call to the front lines.

"Once the western resources that are out there to fight fires start to get a little bit exhausted they start pulling resources, fire crews from the eastern half of the U.S.," said Finn. He continued, "That's usually when we come in and start filling in where they need us."

Finn said fire crews are limited to carry 60 pounds of equipment for up to two weeks. Firefighters carry rations for food, along with fire-proof blankets called "fire shelters" that can be used for cover as a last line of defense. Finn has fought several wildfires in his career, and says even proper equipment and training can be no match for an unpredictable blaze.

"Every time you go out you have to have an escape route, you have to have safety zones established," said Finn. He added in reference to the 19 firefighters killed in Arizona, "Things just must have gotten that bad that quick that they just couldn't get to either one."

The Arizona wildfire is still raging through 8,400 acres. Finn says he's ready to step back onto the front lines if the call comes.