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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida firefighters head to Colorado to battle wildfires

A plane drops retardant while battling wildfires in Colorado last month.


A plane drops retardant while battling wildfires in Colorado last month.



With the peak of Florida's wild fire season over, more than 3 dozen firefighters are heading west to help Colorado try to contain more than 50,000 acres of fires raging in that state.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the state is sending 40 people to Colorado, which already has more than 280 firefighters battling a pair of massive fires, including a 35,000 acre fire near the Colorado and Wyoming border.

“This type of work can be exhausting and hazardous due to the extreme terrain and intense flames found in Colorado," said Jim Karels, Florida's Forest Service Director under Putnam's office. "By assisting other states, our wildland firefighters build their expertise and enhance their capability to protect Florida from approximately 4,000 wildfires every year."

In addition to the latest crew deployment, there are currently 30 Florida Forest Service personnel battling fires in eight other states.

Some of Florida's more than 600 forestry firefighters often head west after the state's fire season to supplement their income. By fighting fires in other states, fire fighters can collect overtime subsidized by other states or the federal government. Florida forestry firefighters are paid on average $27,000 a year. In the spring the Florida Legislature, at Putnam's urging, agreed to give the firefighters a $2,000 per person raise.



[Last modified: Thursday, August 11, 2016 1:55pm]


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