WESTPORT, Conn. -- As many enjoyed one of the last weekends of summer, two Westport firefighters packed their gear to join the 20-person Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew, headed to the western United States to help fight ongoing wildfires.
The Westport firefighters with this perilous assignment are Michael Kronick and Robert Yost. Kronick has been deployed to the western U.S. several times, most recently to northern California in 2015. This is Yost's first such deployment.
The Connecticut crew assembled in Marlborough on Saturday morning before heading to Harrisburg, Pa.,, where they met up with fire crews from Florida, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. They arrived in Boise, Idaho, on Sunday afternoon.
These eastern crews had been ordered by the Great Basin Fire Coordination Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The center is managing 11 separate fires, which are burning approximately 180,000 acres. The Connecticut crew is currently assigned to the Black Fire, in Idaho.
Firefighters use vacation and their own time off while deployed on these assignments. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection maintains a roster of personnel from local fire departments who are certified to fight wildfires, which in turn allows Connecticut to participate in a reciprocal aid program operated by the U.S. Forest Service.
"We are very grateful that Westport has the capacity to lend a hand in fighting these devastating fires," Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and Fire Chief Andy Kingsbury said, in a joint statement. "We wish our crews, and all the brave crews involved in these dangerous efforts, a safe and speedy return."