Rhea Co. firefighter back home from western wildfires - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rhea Co. firefighter back home from western wildfires

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When parts of the western United States are ablaze and in the news, Rhea County's Jackie Wooden readies for the expected call for help.

"Yeah, sometimes I do, I wonder well they're going to be needing help out there and they were so short-handed this year, they was calling people from Canada to come help," says Wooden, who just this month is celebrating 29-years with the Tennessee Forestry Service.  Wooden returned home last week from his latest deployment, fighting two separate wildfires in Montana and Idaho.

"It was pretty smoky this year, more smokier than I ever saw, sometimes you couldn't see the sun, just a little dot up in the sky it would be so smoky."

Wooden says he's been out West more than 2 dozen times to fight wildfires and that it is too easy to blame drought for igniting so many blazes. 

"Most of 'em are started by lightning a lot of times and sometimes a vehicle may burn or just anything, you know somebody welding sometimes causes fires but when it gets that dry it doesn't take much, a little spark can set one off."

Wooden says fighting wildfires out in the mountainous West helps him when he's in his more usual element of East Tennessee.

We asked him with so many ventures afar if he's ever thought of moving, "Well I thought about that," says Wooden with a grin. "But my wife wouldn't move out there so I'd be up a creek there."

Wooden is among 35 Tennessee Forestry workers who have answered the call for help out West this summer.

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