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HUTCHINSON, Kansas– As a raging wildfire takes over 15,000 acres of the Black Forest in Colorado Springs, a Kansas family who recently moved there can only hope for safety and protection.
“It’s heartbreaking really,” said Susan Vondenkamp, formerly of Meade, Kansas. “All of these people are losing their homes. It’s sad.”
Vondenkamp has already had to evacuate her home once and may have to do it again, while hundreds of miles away in Wichita, Jessica Peters is preparing to head that direction Friday.
“It’s not something I had planned,” said Peters. “I’m really blessed to have the honor to do this.”
Peters is a second year student enrolled in the fire science program at Hutchinson Community COllege. Her assignment is to help an engine crew put out flames.
“I know the danger, and I know the scare, but I try to block that,” said Peters. “I don’t let it take over what I’m really there to do.”
Jessica is one of 10 students, former students and instructors heading to the West to battle the wildfires.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to find out if this is really what they want to do,” said Rodney Redinger, an instructor at HCC.
Also a training specialist with the Kansas Forest Service, Redinger is on standby. His father is already on the fire lines– a small comfort to those in need.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s nice to see that people care,” said Vondenkamp.