wsls logo

Franklin County park ranger fighting fires out West for another year

Betsy Haynes is a park ranger at Booker T Washington National Monument

The California Dixie fires burned over 500.000 acres of land and one woman from our areas has been helping folks in the West Coast fight these fires.
The California Dixie fires burned over 500.000 acres of land and one woman from our areas has been helping folks in the West Coast fight these fires.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – People from our area have headed out West to help fight the fires. That includes a park ranger from the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Franklin County.

As fires rage on, crews from all across the country have flown in to help. That includes people from right here in Southwest Virginia. Betsy Haynes is one of them. You’d normally find her at the park in Franklin County, but for two weeks she’s working on a communications team for the fires at the Divide Complex in Montana.

“Some of the areas we’re doing trap lines, which means we’re taking information out to the community and doing bulletin boards and doing updates and answering phones,” Haynes said.

While she’s more behind the scenes this year, it’s still a tough environment. They work 16-hour shifts in a yurt, face thick smoke head-on, and she’s even sleeping in the back of her truck while on the job.

“It’s been a really interesting adventure and it’s going to continue, especially since I’m living out of the Toyota 4-Runner,” Haynes said.

Haynes deployed out West in 2020 as well and started her adventure in wildfire incident management in the early 90s fighting fires head-on for nearly two decades. Her current role is as a public information officer and she’s proud to serve again this year.

“It’s very Big Sky country for sure, it’s very smoky, I’ve been using Flonase for the last couple days and it’s just beautiful country,” Haynes said