Nearly 200 active wildfires nationwide are wreaking havoc on land, in forests and to homes. Missouri crews are fighting wildfires in Montana, Mississippi, Wyoming, Oregon and California. Wildfires have damaged thousands of acres of land, including about 500,000 acres in Montana.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Interior

Cody Norris with Mark Twain National Forest in mid-Missouri’s Rolla says the work is intense for the 100 Missouri firefighters battling the flames.

“They often have to quickly learn the terrain, how fire behaves in that area, heavy fuels, trees that have fallen on the ground due to beetle kill and wind events,” says Norris.

Norris tells Missourinet there are more than 100 national forests and grasslands nationwide to protect.

“The U.S. Forest Service does have a very strong fire component because it’s very important for us to protect the resources we’re managing by putting out wildfires on the land and using prescribed fires as a tool to do restoration efforts in areas that are fire-dependent ecosystems. We do have folks stationed with that expertise on most, if not all of those forests and grasslands,” says Norris. “This has been happening for decades. It’s a national support effort. Somebody might work on a forest but they’re often supporting the emergency response nationwide.”

Norris says Missouri’s natural wildfire season is in the spring and fall. Western states have more wildfires during the summer months.

He says some Missouri members might be assigned to hurricane relief efforts when they return from firefighting assignments.