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Iowa Firefighters Reflect On Experience With 2020 Wildland Fires

This was a historically devastating year for wildfires.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with two native Iowans for their first-hand accounts of fighting wildfires out west.

Nate Wiener
Helicopter with bucket flies over a line of fire to make a drop to help disperse the flames. 2019

Nate Wiener has been a firefighter for about 10 years. Currently, he’s squad leader for what’s called a helitack crew based in Boise, Idaho. Wiener’s squad can respond rapidly, as they’re transported by helicopter to wildfires.

This was the very first season for Liam Kieffer as part of an engine crew based in Montana. Kieffer spent his summer out west. He is also host Ben Kieffer's son.

Liam close up Shissler Idaho fire Sept 2020.jpg
Liam Kieffer
Liam Kieffer in Shissler Idaho fire. September 2020


  • Nate Weiner, squad leader on the Boise helitack crew, Boise, Idaho
  • Liam Kieffer, U.S. Forest Service
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa