Wife of Colorado firefighter deployed to West Coast opens up

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DENVER -- A day after three firefighters died in a Washington wild fire, the wife of a Colorado firefighter opened up to FOX31 Denver about his deployment to the West Coast.

Natalie Payne says her husband Zac Payne is fighting several wildfires in the Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California. Though he is hundreds of miles from the fire that killed three firefighters in Washington, she says it does not put her at ease.

"It's incredible. It's horrific. It's upsetting," Natalie said, wiping away tears.

Natalie she has had a lot of sleepless nights ever since her Zac, a Greeley firefighter, deployed last week.

"He calls me about 9:00 in the morning,” she said. “That is when he's ready to go to bed."

Just before their call on Thursday morning, Natalie learned about the three firefighters who died and four who were injured in Washington.

"I instantly felt sick to my stomach,” Natalie said. "You know, they're his fallen brothers."

Natalie says Zac does his best to keep her updated without worrying her, but she admits it can be hard. With nearly 100 large wildfires currently torching more than a million acres of land across the west, Zac is one of nearly 30 thousand firefighters who have answered the call.

"They're all smart. They all know what they're doing,” she said. “But there are those certain circumstances and accidents that do occur and... you never know."

Natalie says Zac is expected to return to Colorado on Aug. 29.

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