Piedmont women fighting wildfires return home

It has been an around the clock effort to get North Carolina wildfires under control.

With many being contained, several crew members have returned home including two women from the Piedmont.

Hannah Johnson, Forsyth County Ranger for the North Carolina Forest Service, was dispatched for 23 days.

Taylor Whitmire, Assistant Forsyth County Ranger for the North Carolina Forest Service, was dispatched for 21 days.

The daily demands were grueling.

“We did initial attack on a couple and they were just going straight up the hill,” Johnson said. “When the wind events came through, it was a lot harder to catch them.”

Johnson has fought several fires over the course of her career spanning close to a decade.

However, this was a new experience for Whitmire.

“This is my first dispatch,” she said.

It was also personal.

Whitmire was sent to Transylvania County -- the same area where she grew up.

“That it was my home, I was really eager and ready to go to help out anyway I can,” she said.

One of things that stands out about their time in the western part of the state is the gratitude so many people expressed to the fire crews.

“There was an absolute outpouring of kindness from the people in western North Carolina. They were bringing and donating things for the firefighters,” Johnson said.

“People from high school coming up and giving you a big hug saying, ‘Hey, thank you.’ ‘Thank you for you and your crew. At least let us buy you dessert or something.’ It meant a lot,” Whitmire said.

Johnson and Whitmire could get the call again should they be needed in Tennessee.

They are ready and willing to assist should that happen.