Newton County man helps fight west coast wildfires

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NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. — A Newton County man recently spent two weeks in Montana.

He wasn’t there on vacation.

Greg Hickman works with Newton County Emergency Management. He spent his time out west as a radio operator.

Specifically — working with helicopters in scouting out forest fires.

Since last month, flames have taken over the state of Montana.

“Back in July, the early part of July, there was a storm that came through and a lot of it was dry lightning, and started numerous fires,” said Greg Hickman, Newton County Emergency Management.

Due to the fires, Greg Hickman received a call from one of his friends — asking if he wanted to come up and help fight the fires.

“It’s like any business, or any first responders, whenever you get the call, you want to go. Sometime in this situation you have to think about what you’ve got at home, other things that are going on because you’re gonna be gone for two weeks,” said Hickman.

Hickman was focusing on the West Lolo Complex, where he worked with nine different fires as a radio operator.

“We control the take off and landing, we give information, conditions, weather conditions, we give mission assignments,” said Hickman.

Newton County Emergency Management Director, Charla Geller says helping out others has always been one of Hickman’s strongest traits.

“Greg has always put the community above his own needs, and he’s been good to us. You know he’s the past Fire Chief of Neosho, and that’s just part of his character,” Charla Geller, Newton County Emergency Management Director.

During his time in Montana, Hickman would spend 16 hours a day in his role as radio operator.

This isn’t the first time Hickman has voluntarily gone out to help with wildfires. In fact, he’s been doing it since the 90’s.

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