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Wildfires take toll on tight-knit firefighting team

The Watson Chapel Fire Department has been serving their community for decades. They say this week has been one of the toughest.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — It's been a busy week for fire departments across the state— especially the ones dealing with wildfires, like the Watson Chapel Fire Department.

The fire department has been serving their community for decades, but they said that this week has been one of the hardest.

 “I've had about three hours of sleep since I woke up Monday morning at 6:00 a.m.,” said Fire Chief Teddy Spivey.

Spivey has been chief for three years, and he said that this week they've battled some of the most difficult wildfires he's ever seen.

“I've seen stuff in the last 3 days that I have never seen in my life,” said Spivey. “And what we experienced Monday night was terrifying.”

Every person in the department is a volunteer, and Spivey said that they're a family— and being part of this team is tradition.

“We grew up around here. Our fathers are volunteer fire departments,” explained Spivey.

Spivey added that there's one person in the family who helps keep them together—  his name is Steven Tidwell, and he carries a big responsibility.

“I just love this fire department,” said Tidwell, the dispatch and assistant fire chief.

Steven's blind, but that's never stopped him from doing what he set out to do at a young age.

“When our 911 center pages us out I enter the page from them and then I take it from there and start assigning trucks and equipment and personnel,” said Tidwell. “If I ever get to see one day, I’m gonna get on the fire department. And I did it being 100% blind."

This department is a tight-knit family of heroes who continue sticking together and showing up for their neighbors.

"No matter what time of day. We've got to get our trucks ready when everything's done, no matter how tired we are,” said Spivey.

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