Maine Firefighters Return From Battling California Wildfires

Dan Poisson started this summer as a college intern for the Forest Service doing tasks such as checking hose pressure, but what he really wanted to do was go out on a fire.

"Because not many of the interns have a chance to go out," he said.

He got his chance when he was sent to California to battle wildfires.

"I just like helping the people who feel helpless," he said.

Poisson and 19 other firefighters and forest rangers from Maine flew across the country and spent two weeks in Willow Creek battling the Happy Camp and Groves fires alongside firefighters from Connecticut.

"There were days when parts of the fire would blow up and it would grow 8,000 acres in a day," crew leader Matt Bennett said.

Bennett said the fire moves fast.

"There were times when you're thinking, 'Yeah, this could be bad,'" he said.

But they got through it together by working long days and sleeping in tents on a baseball field.

"You become a family in that two weeks. You're only as good as your weakest person, and we were phenomenal," Bennett said.

The Maine Forest Service says they have valuable experience that they've learned in New England that is very helpful out in California, especially when it comes to working with water.

"Being from New England, we have water everywhere. They call us the water wizards oftentimes when we go out there because we think of ways of delivering water on a fire that they just haven't thought of," Bennett said.

He says those skills helped them exceed expectations and contain the wild fire on its west side.

Without volunteers from across the country, Bennett says California would be in far worse shape.

"There would be so many homes lost. It would be a conflagration," he said. 

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