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Central Alabama fire departments stretched thin as wildfires continue amid severe drought

ABC 33/40 gets an idea of what kind of strain wildfires cause on resources.
ABC 33/40 gets an idea of what kind of strain wildfires cause on resources.
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Fires have scorched thousands of acres across Alabama. Crews are struggling to keep current wildfires from spreading and new ones from starting. Our state's trees, bushes and other property have taken a beating over the last month. Fire crews are no exception. Resources are stretched especially within small departments.

Firefighters can't catch a break. Day after day, crews answer call after call to put out a wildfire. Alabama's Forestry Commission is battling the fires statewide. Volunteer firefighters are trying to help.

"Our smaller departments only have a limited amount of personnel on duty any way, so a 10-acre brush fire takes everyone that is on duty to put it out. It does not leave personnel to run other emergency calls," said McAdory Area Fire District Chief Jeff Wyatt.

The McAdory Area Fire District has paid and volunteer firefighters. Wyatt has deployed the district's utility-terrain-vehicle about a dozen times in the last month.

"It has been a life-saver for my territory out here. We use it to cover McAdory, Eastern Valley, any fire district or wherever the EMA needs us to go," added Chief Wyatt.

UTVs are a hot commodity for firefighters especially when working during a drought like we are in now.

Homewood's Fire Chief showed ABC 33/40 the special hoses, back-pack water supply and tools on his department's UTV.

"It gets us to places where you can't take a fire truck. If you're in rough terrain, or in a wooded area, it's a two and four-wheel drive vehicle to help you get in that terrain," said Chief John Bresnan.

Terrain is also a challenge for Center Point firefighters, but their department can handle most wildfires.

"This right here is more mobile. It is also four-wheel drive, so it can go a lot of places the fire truck can't go," said Center Point Firefighter Brad Appleton.

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Fire crews really do appreciate UTVs and brush trucks. They help keep crews from getting hurt while falling in holes, stumbling over debris and moving through dark areas.

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