Rineyville firefighters return home after battling eastern Kentu - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Rineyville firefighters return home after battling eastern Kentucky wildfires

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RINEYVILLE, Ky.  (WDRB) – Fire, smoke, rough terrain and even rattle snakes -- those are just some of the obstacles facing crews battling wildfires in eastern Kentucky.

The Rineyville Fire Department in Hardin County sent three members and just arrived back home. They, alongside dozens of other firefighters from all over the state, put in 17-hour days battling 19 active fires that cover 20,000 acres of land.   

“Fire seemed everywhere,” said Rineyville Fire Chief David Walters, after hearing the conditions from his firefighters.

Frequent and rapid changes in wind direction added to the massive undertaking.

“Not only that, but when the fire was making its way up the hollows and valleys, it caused a chimney effect," Assistant Rineyville Fire Chief Chuck Bailey said. "At certain points, it was like a blowtorch in our face."

Rineyville firefighters spent their time in eastern Kentucky battling flames along the Highway 190 corridor to protect the city of Pineville.

“We use minimal amount of water ... the biggest reason for that is because there's not a lot of water sources up on the mountain," Bailey said. "So you have to conserve, conserve, conserve."

So how do you fight wildfires without water?

“We set a fire to burn toward the oncoming fire to reduce the fuel source and then enlarge our control line,” Bailey said.

Once the smoke clears, the Kentucky National guard comes in. Choppers filled 600-gallon buckets with water at a nearby lake and emptied it over hot spots.

Officials with the Kentucky Division of Forestry say three people have been arrested for arson in connection to the wildfires -- Johnny Mullins, Charles Watters and a juvenile.

But no matter how the flames started, the Rineyville Fire Department says it will help until the wildfires are extinguished.

“It’s one of those things ... you can ever underestimate the power or heart of a volunteer or paid department,” Chief Walters said.

Officials expect flames to increase this weekend because of dry weather, low humidity and increasing winds.

Most counties in Kentucky are under a burn ban.

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