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2 Florida firefighters help fight fires out west, say more help needed

Stepping up to help those thousands of miles away, two Florida men volunteer to fight deadly wildfires like those out west. We spoke to them about why they chose to help in the fight and what’s needed to keep the flames under control.

The sights and sounds of fire crackling are something Sean Allen, with the Caloosahatchee forestry, knows well. Allen is a manager at the forestry center.

“That’s just a part of what we do,” Allen said.

But the fires raging across the Pacific Northwest, those are a different story.

“It almost looks like a scene like out of a movie, like post-apocalyptic,” Allen said. “It’s certainly not like anything I’ve ever seen before.”

Allen spent two weeks helping firefighters in the Sequoia and Inyo national forests.

“It’s a truly humbling experience,” Allen said. “The number of fires that are currently burning out there, not just the size, it is truly unprecedented.”

Florida native William Franklin is fighting this wildfire in Oregon.

“It’s just pure adrenaline to where you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, I can feel my clothes cooking,” Franklin said.

So why risk your life? Why go where the fires burn hot and fast?

“We walked into Walmart a couple of days ago, and just like everyone starts clapping for us because everyone’s panicked,” Franklin said. “It is definitely rewarding though.”

Allen said there simply needs to be more first responders at the scenes to get the fires under control.

“There’s just not enough bodies to handle it,” Allen said.

They also need better weather and some luck. From Oregon to California, it’s all hands on deck

Allen told us Air Force, National Guard and other military personnel are going through rapid training, so they can help contain the flames.

Nearly 80 wildfires have burned around 3.8 million acres in California and Oregon since the last week of August.

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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