Green Country Firefighters Crossed Paths With 19 Killed In Arizona
TULSA, Oklahoma - Three Green Country firefighters were on the front lines with the 19 firefighters who died in Arizona.
The three men crossed paths with the Arizona firefighters last week, when they were fighting a different fire in the state.
Ross Walker has been with Osage Nation Wildland Fire Management for five years.
"I've still got a lot of learning and a lot of growing in the fire world," Ross said.
He and two other firefighters were sent to help with the Black Forest Fire in Colorado. From there, they went to Arizona, and that's where they met the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
"I saw them six days ago," Ross said.
Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died while battling a wildfire in Arizona. Ross said it hits close to home, knowing he was just with that fire crew.
"Walked by, said hi to them, shook hands with them, ate dinner, slept in the same place they slept in."
When battling the monstrous flames, Mother Nature can sometimes become your worst enemy.
"It's just something you've got to basically adjust to. Everything is continually changing. It's something you've got to monitor," Ross said.
That's why they're trained to use fireproof tents as a shield if they're caught in the fire.
Investigators believe the 19 men tried to do that, but it was too late.
"It makes you think about what can happen and it makes you think about yourself and also your crew," Ross said.
Especially rookie members, like Kevin Walker. This was his first time on the frontline.
"Before we left, I was sort of nervous. I mean, I've never done it," Kevin said. "It's a wildland fire. You see them on TV all the time and they're monstrous flames and smoke."
Kevin said the tragic accident will make him more aware when battling fires.
"Anything can happen. It's accidents. The weather is unpredictable, clearly. Nature is at its own speed and it's a terrible thing that happened," Kevin said.
"It's a loss. My thoughts and prayers do go out to the family members that did lose their loved ones," Ross said.
Ross Walker is currently on his way back to Arizona to help with the fires. He is expecting to be there for two to three weeks.