Mo. Dept. of Conservation employee shares experience fighting blaze in Wyoming

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:40 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Massive wildfires are spreading across the western part of the U.S. and they’re so severe, some folks in the Heartland are called to help.

“It was a very unique experience,” Jennifer Behnken said.

Missouri Department of Conservation staff stepped up to help battle blazes out west.

“As severity reaches up, interjacencies put out a shoutout for that level of severity to be able to acquire resources from out of state and that’s where we come in,” Behnken said.

Community forester, Jennifer Behnken, who normally works in Cape Giradeau, served in Wyoming for two weeks with the Missouri-Iowa Interagency Coordination Center.

“They will make sure that we have a plan in mind, they will issue the crew where they need to go,” she said.

“We do our part to make sure the fire stays out and there are no escaping embers that could possibly start a wildfire somewhere else,” she said.

Even though she found it challenging, she said it’s worth it.

“The gratitude we received from folks really does go a long way knowing that our contributions and our hard efforts make it a worthwhile effort really is something that speaks to itself as to why it’s worth the time and energy and resources to be able to do this,” she said.

She trains yearly in case she’s needed in a similar emergency.

“It is a sacrifice; folks are away for two to three weeks at a time so we have to make sure that everything on the Homefront can stay in good operation and I’m very excited that I had this opportunity to go,” she said.

She said wildfire season typically runs June through October.

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