White has been on the state's hotshot crew for about a decade. He's skipping this year to spend time with his family, he said, but he's not nervous about going back in light of the recent tragedy.
"I've been fighting fires for 13 years," he said. "It doesn't make you nervous. It really makes you realize what you are going out there to do."
Jeremy Jones, regional director of the state Division of Forestry's Milton office, has been out West the past six years. He will go again when the crew is called later this summer, he said. They could be called to fight fires that spark in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
"We know it's dangerous," he said. "But the firefighter community is pretty tightknit. Hopefully we can learn from whatever mistakes occurred out there [Sunday]."
Raging fires out West behave differently than those in West Virginia, Jones said.
A dry climate and triple-digit temperatures often spread forest fires out of control, like the one in Arizona. But each trip teaches crew members new techniques to battle forest fires here at home, he said.
"We don't really have a summer fire season here in West Virginia," Jones said. "So this gives us more work out West and helps our firefighting abilities."Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.