East Tennessee firefighters shocked by Arizona deaths

East Tennessee firefighters shocked by Arizona deaths

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"We all know in the back of our minds that a possibility that can happen when we are out fighting fires, but actually to see it happen it's very shocking," said Darren Bailey, a local forester. "We all know in the back of our minds that a possibility that can happen when we are out fighting fires, but actually to see it happen it's very shocking," said Darren Bailey, a local forester.
UT students learn fire training. UT students learn fire training.
Benjamin Reichert, a forestry grad student and an academy graduate, says this tragedy will not keep him from pursuing firefighting. Benjamin Reichert, a forestry grad student and an academy graduate, says this tragedy will not keep him from pursuing firefighting.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - On Sunday, 19 firefighters were killed while battling a wildfire in Arizona, making it the deadliest day for the United States firefighters since 9/11.

In East Tennessee, there are several firefighters who have the specialized training to fight wildfires.

Back in 2008, Darren Bailey, an area forester with the Tennessee Forestry Department, traveled to Southwest Texas to help battle wildfires there.

He says every firefighter knows there is danger.

"We all know in the back of our minds that a possibility that can happen when we are out fighting fires, but actually to see it happen it's very shocking," said Bailey.

Bailey says every person in the forestry department has the specialized training to fight wildfires.

He says if a need arises, their department could be called out to help.

Many students at the University of Tennessee also have the training.

"It is a requirement for all the students in forestry, wildlife, and fisheries," said UT associate professor of forest biology Jennifer Franklin.

Franklin organizes the UT fire academy each semester.

She says many times students who have graduated will go out West and fight fires for the summer.

"When I heard the news, I immediately went to see what I could find out about it, because I know so many of the firefighters in this area, and also some of our students, and former students, that went out West," said Franklin.

So far, they do not know of any UT students who are in Arizona.

Benjamin Reichert, a forestry grad student and an academy graduate, says this tragedy will not keep him from pursuing firefighting.

"Not at all. Fires, it's fun, but it's dangerous," said Reichert. "It doesn't scare me, well it scares me, but it doesn't stop me from pursuing something like that."

The UT fire academy is so popular they have to limit it to 60 students each semester.

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