National Guard Battles Blazes Across the Country

National Guard Battles Blazes Across the Country jlieberher Tue, 08/24/2021 - 06:41 National Guard troops from across the country continue to play a critical role in wildfire response as multiple fires burn across the United States.  More than 1,400 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 12 states have been called up to help with multiple blazes, including in California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana, according to the National Guard.  While the National Guard routinely responds to domestic emergencies, including natural disasters, the 2021 fire season has proven to be especially ruthless.  The National Wildland Fire Preparedness level escalated to its highest level on July 14, meaning several areas across the country “are experiencing large, complex wildland fire incidents … which have the potential to exhaust national wildland firefighting resources,” according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The July 14 escalation is “the third earliest occurrence since 1990,” according to an Aug. 1 wildfire report from the National Interagency Fire Center.  When 2nd Lt. Travis Stice of the Idaho Army National Guard heard the call for volunteers, he answered without hesitation, undaunted by the 15 wildfires burning across Idaho.  “I am very excited that this is a state mission,” Stice said in a National Guard press release. “It’s the reason I signed up for the Idaho National Guard, to help the citizens of Idaho, along with serving my country. I just love my fellow Idahoans. I called my employer with one day’s notice and they said, ‘Awesome, just come back safe and we'll work everything out when you come back.’ They were very supportive even with the short notice.” In Oregon, the Department of Forestry requested 115 Oregon National Guard troops to fight the Rough Patch and Bootleg fires.   Though fire seasons are unpredictable until they start, Julia Johnson, a trainer for the Oregon Military Department who has been teaching Guard troops vital fire support skills, said that conditions in Oregon have been particularly dry across the state.  “You never know how a fire season is going to be until [it] starts,” Johnson said. “The indicators with the fuels right now is that it’s very dry, not just here but around the state.” In California, hundreds of troops from California, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Louisiana are fighting fires in the state, according to an Army press release. In just over a month, the Dixie Fire has burned more than 662,000 acres, making it the second largest in California’s recorded history.  “We’re seeing very gusty winds and are seeing it combined with dry conditions and record drought, making this a very, very dangerous and severe situation,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Soldiers from the California Army National Guard’s 870th Military Police Company have been conducting traffic control in vital areas and assisting local law enforcement in several communities.  “On the one hand, most of us are pretty proud of our role here and of being Guardsmen in California,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Chow, one of the company’s platoon leaders, in a National Guard press release. “It’s nice talking to people … because they’re thankful for the assistance from us. On the other hand, I can’t say I’m happy to be here because it’s kind of sad.” More than anything, though, Chow is proud to serve in communities across the state he calls home. “We are from California. We are members of the community, and we are here to help,” he said. Image Image Credit Oregon National Guard/Master Sgt. John Hughel Lead In Hundreds of Troops Are Responding to ‘Large, Complex’ Wildfires Publication Date Tue, 08/24/2021 - 07:00 Tags Headline news National Guard California National Guard Members Only Off

National Guard Battles Blazes Across the Country
National Guard Battles Blazes Across the Country jlieberher Tue, 08/24/2021 - 06:41

National Guard troops from across the country continue to play a critical role in wildfire response as multiple fires burn across the United States. 

More than 1,400 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 12 states have been called up to help with multiple blazes, including in California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana, according to the National Guard. 

While the National Guard routinely responds to domestic emergencies, including natural disasters, the 2021 fire season has proven to be especially ruthless. 

The National Wildland Fire Preparedness level escalated to its highest level on July 14, meaning several areas across the country “are experiencing large, complex wildland fire incidents … which have the potential to exhaust national wildland firefighting resources,” according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The July 14 escalation is “the third earliest occurrence since 1990,” according to an Aug. 1 wildfire report from the National Interagency Fire Center. 

When 2nd Lt. Travis Stice of the Idaho Army National Guard heard the call for volunteers, he answered without hesitation, undaunted by the 15 wildfires burning across Idaho. 

“I am very excited that this is a state mission,” Stice said in a National Guard press release. “It’s the reason I signed up for the Idaho National Guard, to help the citizens of Idaho, along with serving my country. I just love my fellow Idahoans. I called my employer with one day’s notice and they said, ‘Awesome, just come back safe and we'll work everything out when you come back.’ They were very supportive even with the short notice.”

In Oregon, the Department of Forestry requested 115 Oregon National Guard troops to fight the Rough Patch and Bootleg fires.  

Though fire seasons are unpredictable until they start, Julia Johnson, a trainer for the Oregon Military Department who has been teaching Guard troops vital fire support skills, said that conditions in Oregon have been particularly dry across the state. 

“You never know how a fire season is going to be until [it] starts,” Johnson said. “The indicators with the fuels right now is that it’s very dry, not just here but around the state.”

In California, hundreds of troops from California, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Louisiana are fighting fires in the state, according to an Army press release. In just over a month, the Dixie Fire has burned more than 662,000 acres, making it the second largest in California’s recorded history. 

“We’re seeing very gusty winds and are seeing it combined with dry conditions and record drought, making this a very, very dangerous and severe situation,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Soldiers from the California Army National Guard’s 870th Military Police Company have been conducting traffic control in vital areas and assisting local law enforcement in several communities. 

“On the one hand, most of us are pretty proud of our role here and of being Guardsmen in California,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Chow, one of the company’s platoon leaders, in a National Guard press release. “It’s nice talking to people … because they’re thankful for the assistance from us. On the other hand, I can’t say I’m happy to be here because it’s kind of sad.”

More than anything, though, Chow is proud to serve in communities across the state he calls home. “We are from California. We are members of the community, and we are here to help,” he said.

Image
Soldiers fighting wildfire
Image Credit
Oregon National Guard/Master Sgt. John Hughel
Lead In
Hundreds of Troops Are Responding to ‘Large, Complex’ Wildfires
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