Volunteer firefighters making it work with a tight budget

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Updated: 3/11/2013 9:27 am Published: 3/08/2013 10:11 pm

The recent rain has relieved much the effects of the long drought but the fire danger is still with us.

The U.S. Forest Service has decided to let more fires, in remote areas, burn out on their own to save hundreds of
millions of dollars.

However, volunteer firefighters in rural Creek County say they don’t have that luxury. 

“Once it gets out into a field it can rush up on a house in minutes," said Freedom Hill Volunteer Firefighter Timothy Smythe.

Homes were just feet away from going up in flames. Smythe says at least 200 acres burned before firefighters put the fire out.

"Our main goal is to protect life and property," he said.

They rely on donations, $50 subscriptions from nearly 300 homeowners and a $4,000 state grant to operate.
However, wildfires like last year that burned tens of thousands of acres in Creek County can also burn out these firefighters.

"The fires for August popped three of these tires,” said Smythe.  “They're about $170 a piece and that's the cheapest we could find."

Those repairs can take a toll on their budget pretty quickly. The department is expanding. Firefighters say the new
building will give them more room to house more grass trucks, a training facility and room for their equipment. Currently, everything is in the same building.

"We still have a little ways to go. We're working hard to get there,” Smythe said. “Of course we're hoping not
to have anything like last August but the drought conditions. It's possible."

Smythe says the fire was caused by a controlled burn. He says it just shows what the wind can do with fire even when you think you have it under control.

The department has also received to new grass trucks which they say will help them greatly battling fires.

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