When the Carr Fire in northern California enveloped what was supposed to be their escape route, Todd Dudek and his fellow firefighters had an “oh, crap” moment.
Flames lapped at either side of their fire engine as the truck barreled through the blaze and back to safety, the volunteer firefighter from Hebron recalled. In his four years of fighting wildfires, this year’s blazes in California are among the worst Dudek has experienced.
Dudek, 56, is one of dozens of firefighters from Maryland joining an international effort to battle wildfires across the western U.S. At least 60 firefighters from Maryland have been sent to fight wildfires so far this summer, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. More will likely be called up, agency officials said. And Maryland fire researchers expect to study the blazes to help fire-prone areas protect themselves in the future.