Local Fire Science Educator Gives Take on Arizona Fires

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz., were killed Sunday when a windblown wildfire overcame them north of Phoenix.

The tragic fire has impacted local fire science educators. The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point will have one of the largest fire science programs in the nation next fall with the addition of new courses.

Associate Professor of Wildfire Science Ron Masters said the Arizona fire and number of deaths will change the way he teaches incoming students in the program.

"This event will affect the way I teach," Masters said, "in terms of helping students learn how to prepare in the watch out situations."

The Arizona fire certainly seemed as a "watch out" situation, however the 19 firefighters couldn't get out of the way soon enough. It was the deadliest single day for U.S. firefighters since Sept. 11. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s.

Masters said students will learn their basic fire certifications, protocols and fire suppression in the fall.

He also said it is the best time to get this program up and running in the Midwest because the field is growing along with the amount of wildfires in the nation.

Even though the nation is in shock of the young firefighters death, Masters said he hopes to help prepare students with the tools they need in case they come close to a fire such as the one in Arizona.

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