New Mexico wildland firefighter walks 50 miles to raise awareness

A New Mexico Wildland firefighter took drastic measures Saturday to bring awareness to a cause close to his heart.

“If you do something, you need to catch people’s attention,” said US Forest Service firefighter Steven Collins.

He geared up in his wildland firefighting gear, grabbed his pulaski and walked 50 miles from Penasco to Taos Ski Valley, with a goal of completing the long stretch in 12 hours.

“I’m trying to raise awareness for the Wildland Firefighting Foundation,” said Collins.

News 13 caught up with him near Taos, where he said the foundation is the only nonprofit that helps injured wildland firefighters or the families of the fallen. And in New Mexico, there are a lot of wildland firefighters.

“I’ve worked with people who have been affected by the loss of a friend and I’ve seen the effect that it has,” said Collins.

What’s more, this Carson National Forest Wildland firefighter wants people to be aware that fire season is here. He believes there’s a big danger statewide this year because of all the moisture we’ve received.

“It’s going to boost fuel growth and then come May when everything’s dried out, now all of a sudden we have huge fire potential because the fuels are so big,” said Collins. 

He said it’s a mission well worth the long journey through the wind, cold and body aches.

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