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PNS Daily Newscast - November 20, 2018 


A deadly shooting at a Chicago hospital. Also on the Tuesday rundown: community health centers rise to the challenge after wildfires; plus food inspectors can keep your Thanksgiving meal hearty and healthy

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AZ Fire Crews Spend Labor Day Far From Home

Arizonans are among the fire crews with helicopters, engines and heavy equipment from 33 states fighting more than two dozen wildfires in Washington state. Courtesy: National Wildfire Coordinating Group
Arizonans are among the fire crews with helicopters, engines and heavy equipment from 33 states fighting more than two dozen wildfires in Washington state. Courtesy: National Wildfire Coordinating Group
September 8, 2015

OMAK, Wash. – Firefighters from Arizona have joined crews from more than 30 states and several other countries to battle wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.

It isn't how they'd normally spend a Labor Day weekend, but it highlights the intense collaboration that comes with another intense fire season.

Raul Aguilera is part of a helitack or helicopter-transported fire crew from Springerville and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The firefighters have spent the past two months in Washington state, currently on the Okanogan and Chelan Complex fires.

Aguilera says on Labor Day, he'd typically be facing the more manageable flames of his barbecue grill, but he's proud to help out.

"The hardest thing is definitely being away from your family, but you know, we've all had catastrophic fires in our areas,” he relates. “The locals here have been down to Arizona plenty of times to help us out, so it's kind of like returning a favor, you know?"

Aguilera says he has promised his wife he'll be home in plenty of time for the birth of their third child, due on Oct. 6.

The fire complex he's on has burned more than 240,000 acres and is about 70 percent contained. Just over 1,800 firefighters from 33 states are working on it.

Near Fruitland, Washington, a little weekend rain helped with the 65,000-acre Carpenter Road Fire, which is also 70 percent contained.

Brenda Jensen from Safford, Arizona, is on the public information team that updates fire news. She says she'd probably have been in Arizona's White Mountains with friends this weekend, hiking and hunting for mushrooms. Instead, she's discovered a new vacation spot for future years.

"I'd like to come back and go fishing,” she says. “And the local people have been amazing to us, just so very grateful, stopping by, saying, 'Thank you.’ “Everywhere you go, you see signs that thank the firefighters. And it's a really, really pretty state."

Jensen returns this week to her home base, the Coronado National Forest.

There are 29 wildfires considered active in Washington, and 10 in Arizona.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - AZ