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Sams Valley pilot fighting wildfires on west coast, Greece

Capt. John Walker (KTVL/Mike Marut)

Captain John Walker has been working with Erickson Aviation, Inc. since May 1999 fighting fires across the world.

"[If] the water is close, we can do a lot of damage to a fire," Walker says.

Most recently, Walker has been fighting fires in southern Oregon and Greece. Prior to being a pilot, Walker was a maintenance man for Erickson.

"I went into maintenance as a way to further that goal," Walker said. "You get to be around the aircraft, it helps to know the systems."

Walker initially put in flight hours in a fixed wing aircraft, then earned his commercial license for helicopter flying.

This summer, fires across the west coast have made national news. Fires in Greece have made news in the United States as well where fire season strikes a similar chord.

"It's the same seasons that we have here," Walker said. "The terrain, the fuel, is very, very similar to southern California."

This year, Greece's fire season has been particularly destructive killing more than 90 people.

Walker was there during the destruction on the Greek coast. He received texts and calls about the fires he was fighting.

Walker has also traveled to Australia to fight fires, but he also fights right here at home because he wants to help.

"I'd been on the Biscuit Fire in 2002," Walker remembers. "I grew up in Gold Beach. and so it was very pleasurable for me to end up on an aircraft that was in Gold Beach and fight fire in my hometown."

Walker leaves for another tour of Greece on Tuesday. He will be there for the next three weeks starting Thursday.

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