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    Update: National Guard response to Western wildfires increases

    Update: National Guard response to Western wildfires increases

    Photo By Sgt. Tianna Waite | Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers practice smothering fires during wild land fires...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    National Guard Bureau

    ARLINGTON, Va. - More than 2,000 National Guard members are assisting state and local authorities in battling wildfires across five states in the Western U.S., more than double the number of Guard members who were assisting last week and is the largest National Guard response to a natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, said Guard officials.

    The Guard members are part of more than 25,000 personnel currently supporting firefighting efforts on 76 significant wildfires, making this the largest wildfire response in 15 years, said National Guard Command Center officials.

    More than 7.5 million acres have burned during the wildfire season. Guard members from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and Montana have been providing aviation support, working as hand crews to create firebreaks and providing communication and logistical support where needed.

    Modular Airborne Firefighting System units have dropped more than 500,000 gallons of water or fire retardant on fires this wildfire season. Other units that fly the UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters have also been providing aerial fire suppression support, and cumulatively have dropped more than 2 million gallons of water and fire retardant.

    "[It's] valuable training time ... and it helps increase our proficiency as pilots," said Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 David McPherson with the Oregon Army National Guard. "This is probably some of the toughest flying that we do, so it's a good experience."

    Guard members continue to train and stand ready to deploy in support of wildfires this season, including additional Soldiers from the Oregon Army National Guard, who have completed three days of training on wildfire suppression techniques.

    Daniel Cleveland, a wildlands fire management officer for the Oregon Military Department, underscored the importance of the training while talking about this year's fire season.

    "The fire switches direction every day," he said. "You could be on the trail edge or the heel of the fire and then the winds will switch and the next thing you know you're on the front of the fire."



    Date Taken: 08.27.2015
    Date Posted: 08.27.2015 12:29
    Story ID: 174425

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