Osage County firefighters helped fight fire in Arizona


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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 7/01/2013 5:29 pm Published: 7/01/2013 5:20 pm


Four hundred firefighters are now battling the Arizona wildfire that killed 19 firefighters.

FOX23 reached out to local firefighters and found a close connection to those who perished on Sunday.

In Osage County, there are firefighters who are also part of the elite force known as the Hot Shot crew who just returned home from helping fight the wildfire in Arizona.

One of those firefighters is headed back to fight the fire head-on, even after losing some of the men he fought the fire with.

"Got my headlamp in case you work nights, got my radio mike, fiber tape, batteries," said Ross Walker, a firefighter and member of the Hot Shot crew.

Walker knows the danger he's heading straight into, for the second time.

"We worked hand-in-hand with those 19 firefighters that lost their lives," he said.

He worked for days on the line battling the fire in Arizona. That fire could have been sparked by lightning.

The fire continues to spread with high winds fanning the flames. On Sunday, the wildfire killed 19 people, all part of a team called the Hot Shot crew.

That elite group is the first one in to fight the fire and the last to leave.

"They can be digging line with a hand tool that you would be working with in a garden, through all types of terrain -- through mountain, rock or anything," said Walker.

"They may be using a chainsaw cutting saw line. That's what we were doing when we were with them," he said.

Walker is preparing himself mentally and physically for this very dangerous mission.

At this time, it's not clear what caused the deaths of the 19 firefighters, but Walker has heard rumors.

"There's speculation that it could have been very many dry lightning strikes that did create fire completely surrounding them and trapping them," he said.

Walker told FOX23 he's not scared to go, but is aware of the dangers he will face.


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