Delaware firefighters return home after battling Alaskan blaze

Family, friends and even a pet dog greeted 20 members of the Delaware Forest Service as they arrived at the Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna this afternoon.

The crew had been battling a blaze in the eastern part of Alaska for two weeks. The crew was part of a group of more than 700 firefighters from across the county who assisted with the fire.

Firefighter Nikki Testa said the Delaware crew was responsible for putting down hose lines and digging a fire line to help contain the blaze.

“We basically were just carrying a lot of hose around and hooking the hose line as we went. We had to brush out an area so we’d pick a line along the fire’s edge and that’s pretty much what we did the entire time,” Testa explained.

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The crew camped at a remote site in the forest and food and water were delivered by helicopter.

Some days they had to hike two miles to their work site.

Firefighter William Seybold said the 24 hours of daylight in Alaska also took some time to get used to.

“The first few days you’re really confused by it. You wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and you constantly have to check your watch,” he said. “Finally we figured out—you have to take black plastic and put it over your tent and make a dark shelter in there.”

The 85,000 acre fire is approximately 57 percent contained.

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