Volunteer firefighters give their time to fight Karney Fire

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by Natalie Podgorski

NWCN.com

Posted on September 21, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 10:50 AM

BOISE COUNTY -- When the Karney Fire started burning Monday afternoon, volunteer firefighters were the first to respond. Several volunteer fire departments have continued to give up their time to assist wildland firefighters.

"Some of them have kids and their families and stuff, and they have to take off of work, and they all stuck around and helped fight this thing," said Jim Bryant, the Wilderness Ranch Fire Chief.

The Wilderness Ranch Fire Department is made up of 45 men and women. Not one of them gets paid; they are all volunteers.

"It is just what they do for their community," said Boise County Emergency Management Coordinator John Roberts. Without volunteers Roberts says small communities in the county wouldn't be able to survive. "Any rural county in Idaho has a huge need for volunteers because they can't afford to pay the emergency first responders like the big cities have."

Roberts says throughout Boise County there are around 250 volunteer firefighters, emergency medical services providers and volunteer deputies.

One home off of Robie Creek Road was lost during the Karney Fire. Wildland firefighters and volunteer firefighters helped protect the homes within Wilderness Ranch.

"We didn't lose any homes," said Bryant. "There are three homes up there that should have burnt and they are still there."

The Wilderness Ranch Volunteer Fire Department is funded by a fire district tax. They provide services to around 2,500 people. The tax money the department gets is just enough to cover the equipment and building.

Some volunteer fire departments in Boise County do not get any funding and run as non-profits.

Bryant says over the past few days the community has come together to help them. When firefighters didn't have time to grab food, the community brought it to them. In fact, Bryant had to ask the community to stop bringing food because they have too much.

"Their support, you see it when something like this happens," said Bryant.

As of Friday night, the Karney Fire has burned 440 acres and is 80 percent contained. It is expected to be fully contained by Sunday night.

The Boise County Sheriff's Office says the fire was started by 18-year-old Nathaniel Bartholomew. He was a volunteer firefighter with the Clear Creek Fire Department.
 

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