Franklin County forester returns to Virginia after helping to fight fires in the West

Roanoke Valley News

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — A forester from Franklin County is back in Virginia after helping first responders fight fires out West.

Record-setting fires continue to burn across California. The Dixie Fire has lasted for one month now and is not showing signs of slowing down as evacuations continued over the weekend. Officials say the fires tore through 540,000 acres, including homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, thunderstorms and dangerous winds are increasing fire activity in that region. High temperatures are not helping, with some areas seeing up to 100 degrees.

Bill Sweeney with the Virginia Department of Forestry says this is the third season he’s gone out West to help and, so far, he’s battled a total of four fires.

For him, it’s about helping, learning, and giving the men and women in those areas the opportunity to rest.

“A lot of the firefighters out West have been going since the beginning of the season, and of course this year the season very early,” said Sweeney. “They were at PL 4, which is Preparedness Level 4, in June, which is something that’s not seen very often. And we hit Preparedness Level 5 very quickly.”

Sweeney says he and others who volunteer to help fight wildfires actually have to take time from their work vacation days to go out there.

According to Sweeney, southwest Virginia is fortunate to have vigilant citizens and dedicated first responders to keep our community safe.

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