Arizona disaster reminds local firefighters of brotherhood

Arizona disaster reminds local firefighters of brotherhood

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was one of the deadliest U.S. firefighting disasters in decades.

"All of our flag poles are at half-mast," said Lake Charles Fire Chief Keith Murray. "We do it for them because we consider each other brothers and sisters all the way across."

The brotherhood of firefighters and first responders is a strong one. The news of the past week serves as a reminder.

"It's heartbreaking to hear anything like that," said firefighter Jarrett Iguess. "We're all brothers no matter where you're from so every time we hear about something bad happening it's always hard to deal with."

Murray said an extremely hot day, 40-years worth of cumulated brush and gale-force winds caused by the fire are what made the situation in Arizona even more dangerous.

"Those guys were in good shape, I would say semi-professional athletes, so it's hard to imagine them being in a situation with a fire where you could actually not outrun it," said Murray.

Murray said wildfires here aren't the same as the ones in Arizona, but they're still dangerous.

There's virtually no stopping a western blaze that consumes millions of acres and hundreds of homes, but Southwest Louisiana has an unlikely ally.

"It could happen here to if a person is not paying attention to what they're doing, and we have high winds here and we had a drought a few years back, but thank goodness for a very wet green area," said Murray.

Despite the difference between regions, there's a common bond between firefighters here and places like the disaster in Arizona.

"We're the municipal building firefighters, they're the wildland firefighters, key word is that we're firefighters," said Murray.

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