WATCHING ARIZONA: Iowa Team On Standby

Posted on: 8:15 pm, July 1, 2013, by

The Arizona wildfires are catching the eye of Iowa’s top responders.

Iowa’s Incident Management Team could be called in to help, if the wildfire doesn’t get under control soon.

Des Moines Assistant Fire Chief Greg Chia says hearing about the wildfires in Arizona brings back memories fighting in similar situations in California and Texas.

“The things you have to look at bring a whole different thought process not only for safety but for suppression,” says Chia.

Chia is part of the state-wide Incident Management Team that includes firefighters, law enforcement personnel, public works and other agencies.

“Our expertise is in several areas of resource allocation, gathering resources and also assisting the locals in their immediate needs,” says Chia.

If asked to go to Arizona, the team would help manage resources and provide support to the local responders who count on outside help during crisis situations.

For now team members are staying up to date on what’s happening with the wildfires and keeping a close eye on the news.

“Everybody on the team does, because there is the potential for us to respond so they want some understanding of where they may be deployed,” says Chia.

Chia says watching the devastation in Arizona, makes him think back to his own experiences while being called to help assist during a disaster.

“We`ve been deployed enough where we`ve experienced first-hand what some of the citizens have experienced because of the events,” says Chia.

For now the team will just wait, wait to see if they’re called to help in Arizona and be ready if any other wildfires pop up this summer.

“We`re just watching things and the West with as dry as it’s been the potential for us to be deployed is there,” says Chia.

About 30 people are part of The Iowa Incident Management Team.

If the team is called to assist with a disaster between 8-10 members will go, and they are deployed for two weeks at a time.

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  • Nineteen firefighters were killed Sunday battling a blaze in Arizona, the state forestry division said. The vast majority were from Prescott, said Wade Ward with the Prescott Fire Department. State forestry official Art Morrison said the firefighters were members of a "hotshot" crew, tasked with digging a fire line and creating an escape route. "In normal circumstances, when you're digging fire line, you make sure you have a good escape route, and you have a safety zone set up," Morrison said. "Evidently, their safety zone wasn't big enough, and the fire just overtook them." The crew was fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, which broke out Friday northwest of Phoenix. The fire has grown to 1,000 acres, damaged three homes and forced the evacuations of residents in the communities of Peeples Valley and Yarnell, Morrison said. Authorities believe lightning sparked the blaze. Not including the 19 deaths reported in Arizona, there have been 43 firefighter fatalities reported so far in 2013, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. A total of 83 firefighters died last year while on duty. A Facebook page in memory of the Arizona firefighters was created Sunday night. People left their condolences and messages of support.

  • Yarnell Hill, Arizona fire

  • Yarnell Hill, Arizona fire

  • The Granite Mountain Hotshot crew clears a fire line during a previous story on them. These are the same men that perished this weekend.

  • Flags fly at half at the Arizona Capitol complex in downtown Phoenix in honor of the 19 firefighters who lost their lives fighting a wildfire outside Prescott, AZ..

  • The Arizona city of Prescott gives its thanks after a disastrous wildfire swept through killing 19 members of the hotshot crew.

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