Experienced firefighter shares his knowledge - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Experienced firefighter shares his knowledge

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YAKIMA, WA - Fire crews are spending hours on the lines trying to put the South Wenas Fire out. Many of these firefighters were teenagers when they began their careers.

Reporter Veronica Padilla met Richard Elliott, how has been fighting wildfires since he was just 19 years old.

"It's just different every day," he said. "It's a challenge, it's an immediate reward. You make people's day better most of the time."

The tests he faces on the fire lines - distinctly separate from local firefighters.

"Wild land incidents are kind of more of a marathon in some ways," said Elliott. "I mean, there are intense moments but the scope is big. You can have thousands of people trying to manage an incident that's really large."

And the unpredictability of wildfires like the South Wenas Fire keep crews on their toes.

"This fire is entirely driven by wind. You know it wouldn't have gotten where it got without the wind. It wouldn't have jumped the lines and continued to grow."

So far, more than 1,000 acres have been destroyed, but this fire could be a whole lot worse.

"I mean, we've had a wet spring so the sage didn't burn the way it's going to burn in August. In August this is a much more intense fire."

Elliott has experienced a lot in his 31-year career, but no matter how much time passes by, he still sees a lot of himself in firefighters who got their start at a very young age.

"It's work ethic and it's wanting to do this for the right reasons," Elliott said. "I mean, I hope that's what I was doing but I see that in the next generation."

Fore more information on the South Wenas Fire, click here: 

Brush fire burning up acreage near South Wenas Road
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