Woman-based inmate crew helps fight Kearny Fire

More than a dozen women are working side-by-side with firefighters at the Kearny River Fire.

18 Perryville inmates arrived on the scene the day it broke and for the past three days they've been helping protect homes and mop up.

It's been a long day on the front lines of the Kearny River Fire for the Perryville Wildland Fire Crew. They're exhausted, their clothes and faces are covered with ash.

"We've been out on the line since about eight this morning; we'll get chow, showers, and restock," said Sgt. Janah Barreras.

It's the end of the day for these women.

"It was a hot day; we did a lot of work," said squad leader Kristeen Olson.

Although they are incarcerated, when they're working, they're treated as firefighters.

"We're well networked with crews around the state, they don't treat us any different, we work alongside them with no difference," said Barreras.

During their time behind bars, these women have gone through training and have completed some of the same certification programs that wildland firefighters do.

"We're a close bunch, we all want to succeed when we get out of here, I'm very grateful for it," said Olson.

For some, their hard work may result in a new career. Many women on the fire crew aspire to become professional firefighters after they finish their time at Perryville.

"We're given an opportunity of a lifetime here; we're able to change our lives. We're all on the same page, we all work together to achieve the same goal," said Olson.

The Perryville Wildland Fire Crew gets called out to about 7-8 times a year to help at different fires. The women do a variety of work including structure protection, clearing out fire fuels and mopping up.
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