MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rain would be very much appreciated in the western United States, where dozens of wildfires are burning.
And several crews from Minnesota have been deployed to help. A crew out of Grand Rapids just left for Montana. They are the eighth Minnesota group deployed to help battle the fires.
The state of Washington is dealing with at least 17 fires, and one town had to be evacuated.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says 400 staff members from around the state been working on fires out west this summer.
Training is a crucial part of the job for all firefighters, and it never ends. WCCO was granted access to watch a controlled burn.
“We have five burn cells. We’re going to light one at a time, and they are going to let the fire burn and grow, and eventually the whole room will flash over,” Investigative Captain Anthony Scavo said. “At that time, our fire explorers will extinguish.”
Scavo is part of the Spring Lake Park – Blaine – Mounds View Fire Department.
In less than four minutes, the mock living room went from intact to engulfed in flames, reaching temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.
“We get to kind of see how fire grows, how it spreads, different patterns that it leaves,” he said. “It gives investigators and the public a real kind of eye opening as to what it really does.”
These cases are set up for fire hazard scenarios. There is a grease fire in the kitchen, and a combustion in the shop.
Firefighters from cities like Duluth, Edina and Wadena turned out see how these home hazards turn into disasters.
Ryan Yttreness has been a firefighter in Shakopee for 15 years.
“There’s always room to learn more,” Yttreness said. “If you quit going to school, you’re not doing the service any good.”
Firefighters say prevention is still key, and seeing firsthand how a sprinkler can help contain a fire will spread a message faster than the flames themselves.
“This is really important because, again, it shows how quick a fire will spread, the different ways that it will spread,” Scavo said.
The SBM Fire Department made the controlled burn open to the public to raise awareness around fire safety.
It also gives them an opportunity to have live fire training without a lot of the risk involved in normal firefighting.