(NewsNation Now) — In 2015, Daniel Lyon was fighting the Twist River fire in Washington state. He suffered burns to 70% of his body and lost three crewmates in the blaze.
Wednesday night, he told NewsNation Prime the biggest thing regular people can do to help firefighters is listen to them.
“The best way [to help] is to be ready to evacuate,” he said. “One of the biggest problems firefighters face is the urban interface when homes are mixed in to these forests and to the areas where the the fires are raging. And then they have to spend the time, or law enforcement to spend the time, to evacuate these homes. When you’re told to get out of there, hopefully you will be ready and hopefully you are going to get out of there as soon as you possibly can. Do not wait around.”
Lyon is a police officer now, but he still has firsthand knowledge of how fragile fighting a wildland fire can be.
“Mother Nature is just so unpredictable,” he said. “You can have a random gust of wind and it will just change the entire direction of this fire, and make firefighters you know flee for safety. That was what happened in the Twist River Fire and the winds are just so unpredictable.”
The plants on the ground in the West are ripe for fires this summer. University of California Merced climate and fire scientist John Abatzoglou called it a “trifecta” of a dry year, scorching heat, and fires. “It is a story of cascading impacts,” he said.
“[It’s like] leaving a vegetable plant outside on your front porch,” Lyons explained. “You leave it outside for just 24 hours in 100 degree heat without watering it. Look how dry it is. Now you can think about how dry those trees are that haven’t gotten rain for potentially days and weeks.”
He keeps an upbeat attitude, however he told Marni Hughes the loss of his teammates still haunts him.
You can watch the full interview in the player above.
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