59News goes inside "last resort" fire shelters - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

59News goes inside "last resort" fire shelters

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Tazewell County Man Busted for Growing Marijuana

    Tazewell County Man Busted for Growing Marijuana

    Monday, September 1 2014 8:04 PM EDT2014-09-02 00:04:51 GMT
    Roger Lee Sparks, Jr.Roger Lee Sparks, Jr.
    A Richlands man is in custody after Tazewell County Deputies find $350,000 worth of pot, including 115 plants and more than a pound of harvested marijuana, and guns in his home.
    A Richlands man is in custody after Tazewell County Deputies find $350,000 worth of pot, including 115 plants and more than a pound of harvested marijuana, and guns in his home.
  • Officers In Tazewell County Work To Keep Your Holiday Travel Safe

    Officers In Tazewell County Work To Keep Your Holiday Travel Safe

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:50:12 GMT
    Police patrolling the roads this Labor DayPolice patrolling the roads this Labor Day
    According to AAA, 34.7 million people are expected to hit the road this Labor Day. Many police officers are out in force to keep you safe.
    According to AAA, 34.7 million people are expected to hit the road this Labor Day. Many police officers are out in force to keep you safe.
  • After fatal McDowell County crash, Troopers caution against drinking and driving over Holiday Weekend

    After fatal McDowell County crash, Troopers caution against drinking and driving over Holiday Weekend

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:00:38 GMT
    While many are safely celebrating Labor Day, State Troopers want to caution everyone about the dangers of drinking and driving.The West Virginia Department of Transportation says over the last 5 years in the Mountain State, almost 800 people have been killed in a drink driving crash just during Labor Day Weekend. Troopers released these pictures from Sunday morning's fatal crash to show the consequences drinking and driving can have.Read full story on Sunday morning's fatal crash in McDowell ...
    While many are safely celebrating Labor Day, State Troopers want to caution everyone about the dangers of drinking and driving.The West Virginia Department of Transportation says over the last 5 years in the Mountain State, almost 800 people have been killed in a drink driving crash just during Labor Day Weekend. Troopers released these pictures from Sunday morning's fatal crash to show the consequences drinking and driving can have.Read full story on Sunday morning's fatal crash in McDowell ...
FAYETTE COUNTY -

A national tragedy--- eighteen members of a firefighting crew and one other person were killed Sunday in an Arizona wildfire. They tried to protect themselves by deploying tent shaped survival gear before they were overtaken by the blaze. It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.  While investigators don't know why those shelters did not provide enough protection, 59News got an up close look at how they work.  

These shelters are what experts call a last resort.  Imagine having full firefighting gear on, hat and gloves and carrying a 30 pound backpack full of gear.  Now imagine having twenty-five seconds to get the shelter out of the backpack, build it and take cover. Experts said this is just what fire fighters have to do when faced with making a life or death decision.

"They would be carrying their backpacks, like this with all of their gear in there. The fire shelter is kept underneath and we don't use the real ones to practice because of the cost.  But we use these practice ones here and what you have to do is open it and shake it out and that is when you drop to the ground," Peggy Ainslie, Fire Management Officer with the National Park Services said.

According to experts these shelters can withstand up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, when coming into contact with a fire. Once those shelters reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the glue that holds the shelter together begins to melt and break away. This is why they are only used in "worst case scenarios."

"It is a last resort for survival and that's what people need to know about that. It is not necessarily going to save you from a major fire," Ainslie said.

Ainslie has been fighting wildfires for decades and said she has never had to deploy one of the emergency shelters.  She explained that every year during training the firefighters will practice deploying an emergency shelter.  She said this is extremely helpful hands on training for crews to understand what to do and when to deploy an emergency shelter.