Blue Team Comes to VA to Fight Fire - - ABC13

Blue Team Comes to VA to Fight Fire


Reporter: David Tate

Rockbridge Co., VA - The southern Blue Team is leading the charge to get the fires under control. They are one of 20 top level teams nationwide called on to manage large scale problems like this one.

The Blue Team took over management Wednesday morning on five of six fires that were burning between Rockbridge County and New Castle plus in the Shenandoah Valley.

They say it's a move that helps them more effectively battle a high number of fires as they are dealing with this week.

By the time Mike Wilkins gets a call to join the fight, things typically have been ongoing for several days and the resources are close to running out.

"The folks here know how to fight fire. They do an excellent job at it, but when conditions get so bad for so many days in a row they just get overwhelmed. So we bring in some extra management expertise to help them. They are still working, we just bring in a team to mesh with them," said Mike Wilkins, incident commander.

Wilkins heads up the Southern Area Blue Team, which is the tier 1 incident response team organized for such projects.

"We're just bringing in that extra management layer to help manage it and keep everybody safe," said Wilkins.

The team is like a military unit with 40 members in all that track monitor and coordinate the fire fighting. Firefighters need to be housed, fed, and shifted around for best use, which is a tool that makes Bill Woodyard's job much easier as he is in charge of the boots on the ground.

"It allows us to use resources to move from one fire to the next once they are no longer needed on the fire," said Bill Woodyard, operations chief.

They stay as long as needed, using only what is needed knowing, this is just the start of a fire season that is shaping up to be quite the busy one.

Even with this wind crews are making progress on these fires, there is optimism that with less wind Thursday crews will be able to attack these fires full force in the morning. However so far, 12,000 acres have already burned with the projections of up to 25,000 acres being affected before these fires are finally put out.

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