Upstate firefighters demonstrate use of fire shelters - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate firefighters demonstrate use of fire shelters

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A Duncan Chapel firefighter demonstrates the use of a shelter. (July 1, 2013/FOX Carolina) A Duncan Chapel firefighter demonstrates the use of a shelter. (July 1, 2013/FOX Carolina)

The fatal out of control flames are still devouring the Arizona hills where investigators said 19 firefighters were killed trying to create a line to control the flames - leaving many firefighters in the Upstate grieving.

"It's a dangerous job and firefighters know what we're up against," Don Alleckson said.

He's the fire chief at Duncan Chapel Fire District in Greenville County and said they're trained to attack wildfires and brush fires.

"We go up and we try to get ahead of the oncoming fire," Alleckson said.

If firefighters with Duncan Chapel get a brush fire or wildfire call, they are strapped with aluminized covers called fire shelters. The department is one of a few in the state that have them.

"When you get into them and you lay down and you wait for the fire to pass by," Alleckson said.

Firefighters have seconds to clear an area, deploy the shelter and get in it. The department is located near Paris Mountain and have them in case of wildfires like the one back in 2003, but they said they're deployed as a last resort.

Instead, they use a brush truck which is equipped with a 200 foot fire attack hose located on the front of the truck and a 400 foot hose in the back.

"Fire behavior is something that's very unpredictable, especially when you've got a lot of winds," Alleckson said.

There are reports winds shifted in Arizona and flames engulfed those 19 firefighters.

"That fire is drawing on dry air and wind," Alleckson said.

FOX Carolina meteorologist Andy Wood said wildfires need heat, wind and oxygen.

"You've got low humidity coming in with very, very low humidity on the ground. The soil a lot of the vegetation is dried out, so that fire has nothing but plenty of fuel," Wood said.

So while on the frontline, these firefighters know anything can happen.

A representative with the South Carolina Forestry Commission said one firefighter is headed to Arizona and the North Carolina Forestry Commission has firefighters on standby.

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