Beckley fire fighter returns home safe from fighting wildfires - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Beckley fire fighter returns home safe from fighting wildfires

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BECKLEY -

Robert Donelow with Beckley Fire Department is one of several firefighters home safe in the mountain state after an exhausting 2 weeks out west.

He and his troop spent about 12 hours a day digging fire lines on a steep mountainside in Montana, Idaho and other states.

"I don't know if I wasn't expecting it but I was not ready for the terrain, it was really steep. A lot of the fire fighting was taken on by helicopters because the terrain was so rugged," said Donelow.

He said for most of the crew, fighting fires like this was like nothing they've ever done before.

"It's hot, it's tiring, it's ice on your tents in the morning and 90 degrees an hour later and the elevation, up and down, it's really hard," said Donelow.

He told 59 News one of his favorite parts was actually getting to interact with some of the residents they helped who got displaced from their homes.

"We camped out in one of the guys front yards and every evening he came down and gave us high fives. They were really thankful and that's really the reason we do it," he said.

Not only did they have to fight in about 90 degree weather every day but the fire fighters also had to add on 50 pounds, 30 in their backpack and another 20 in protective clothing.

Looking back, Donelow said despite how hard it was, he'd go back in a heartbeat.

"It was really fun to be honest, we had guys in our crew from West Virginia all the way to Maine, a lot of good guys from the Division of Forestry and Park Service, but we worked together very well and it was a good time," he said.

Several other firefighters from the Mount Hope Fire Department and the Division of Forestry also returned home safely this week.