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Iowa college student helps fight western wildfires

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 12:41 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Nearly 80 wildfires are now burning across 13 states in the western U.S.

People are being forced to evacuate, and smoke is spreading across the country. More than 1,200 firefighters are fighting the fire, and one Iowa college student has been helping.

Turner Sowden, 19, is in the fire program at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge.

He says he went out west through a program with the Iowa DNR. He left around July 1 to help fight fires in Montana for about two weeks.

“I was on a hand crew,” explained Sowden. “We dug in a line that a bulldozer couldn’t because there was too steep of a hill.”

Sowden is back home now. He says, in that time, he got a better understanding of the conditions that cause these fires.

“It would still get to 100 degrees,” said Sowden. “One day it was like 112 degrees or something like that. It’s so dry, you can be doing just a little bit of farm work and one sparkle light up.”

He will find out Saturday if he will be sent out again to help with the fires.

If so, he says he’ll go immediately.

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