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Eight Prisoner Crews Fighting Wildfires Across Arizona

Incarcerated people are working to fight wildfires raging across the state. 

There are eight prisoner crews assigned to various fires. The crews are made up of 17 prisoners and three staff members from the Department of Forestry and the Department of Corrections.

State Forestry spokesperson Tiffany Davila said the incarcerated people are providing direct attack resources at the start of an incident as well as
fire suppression and repair work.

“For example on the Telegraph fire, they’ll go in there, they’ll get in there to those burned areas, they’ll chip dead or burned vegetation," Davila said, "to kind of help rehab that burned area.”

Incarcerated crews are also working on the Rafael, Walnut, Water Springs, Backbone, and Wyrick fires.

The prisoners are paid between $1 and $1.50 cents an hour for the work.

Where Are The Prisoner Fire Crews Working?

  • Winslow Crew - Rafael Fire
  • Tucson and Yuma Crews - Telegraph Fire
  • Douglas and Ft. Grant Crews - Walnut Fire
  • Florence Crew - Water Springs Fire
  • Perryville Crew - Backbone Fire
  • Lewis Crew - Wyrick Fire
Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.