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ONLY ON KOLD: Wildland firefighter talks about saving ranch from Sawmill Fire

(Source: Golder Ranch Fire District) (Source: Golder Ranch Fire District)
(Source: Golder Ranch Fire District) (Source: Golder Ranch Fire District)
(Source: Golder Ranch Fire District) (Source: Golder Ranch Fire District)
(Source: Golder Ranch Fire District) (Source: Golder Ranch Fire District)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Wildland firefighter Rob Russo with Golder Ranch Fire District is the man behind some incredibly close photos of the Sawmill Fire.

He's one of more than 350 firefighters battling the wildfire burning dry brush across more than 40,000 acres in southern Arizona.

SLIDESHOW: Photos of the Sawmill Fire

He quickly snapped some pictures and video while on the job Tuesday night, April 25.

After he got back from his long shift, he sent them to the Golder Ranch Fire District's public information officer, who posted them on the district's fire page. One video quickly went viral with over 120,000 views.


"It's been pretty crazy. We've all been safe and everything but the winds have been so high out here, it's been hard to keep on top of the fire," Russo said.

But the crew he was working with were able to save a ranch off SR-83 and that's why he took the pictures and video.

"When we're together, it's seamless," Russo said describing the teamwork between state, local, and federal agencies.

He said some of the flames were up to 20 feet tall.

"And that's very unusual," he said. "Grass fires usually burn very quickly and the flames stay pretty low, but because of the winds, we had 20-foot flames."

Russo said the winds have been the biggest challenge.

"The winds are so high, it's been hard to keep on top of the fire," he said.

He talked exclusively to KOLD News 13 before heading back out to the front line.

Russo has 23 years of wildland fire experience and is on the night shift.

Russo said he's been sleeping during the day and got about six hours Wednesday, April 26.

He, like so many others, has been working and sleeping outside to protect the homes of many.

As of Wednesday night, no structures had been lost and there were no injures reported.

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