Asheville, North Carolina — As the fires spread in the southeast, local fire crews jumped into action and in the spirit of the season, flew across the country to help fight back.
“Surprising how many fires are out here, it’s really, reminds me of some of those summers in Oregon,” said Joe Touchstone.
Touchstone is no stranger to fires, after a busy season battling flames on the West Coast, he’s one of many leading a similar effort on the other side of the country.
“We sent a full incident management team from Oregon to help with the Party Rock fire. They were sent out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.”
Extremely dry conditions and high winds are leading to dozens of major fires throughout the region.
“Extremely dry, the leaves are late falling off the trees here which leads for fuel for the fires to catch and spread easily,” said touchstone.
So Oregon crews are living up to a promise to relieve their brothers and sisters on the east coast after they spent years helping fight fires here.
“It really is an honor for us to come here, even though it’s over the holidays and we’re missing family. It gives us an opportunity to give back to those who have sacrificed to be there for us and help us,” he said.
It’s a partnership Touchstone says transcends state lines.
“They realize we’re making sacrifices to be here, but we’re willing to make that sacrifice to return the sacrifices they’ve made for us in the past,” said Touchstone.
Matt earned a Meteorology Certificate from Mississippi State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon. Before joining NBC5 News, Matt spent a year in Alexandria, Louisiana as a reporter and anchor for KALB News. Matt was also a production assistant at KEZI 9 News in Eugene and an intern at CNN.
In addition to being passionate about news and weather, Matt loves his Oregon Ducks, the outdoors, craft beer and time with his dogs.