National Guard to help with state's firefighting efforts

Staff Writer

The current fire season is stretching state resources thin. To date, the Department of Natural Resources – the state’s largest firefighting force – has responded to 891 fires on both sides of the Cascades that have burned 113,000 acres Last year, DNR responded to 853 fires.
As a result of this situation, at the request of the Department of Natural Resources, Gov. Jay Inslee today declared a state of emergency, which allows National Guard resources to deploy to wildfires.
Starting tomorrow, two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters will stage at Fairchild Air Force Base and prepare for initial attack on wildfires. The National Guard is also deploying five 20-person crews in northeast Washington on existing wildfires.
“The efforts of our firefighters have been nothing short of heroic, but the sheer number and geographic range of wildfires have stretched our resources thin,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “Our state is at a very high-risk for even more wildfires, and we need additional resources to keep our communities safe. I want to thank the National Guard for providing help at this critical moment.”
The need for the National Guard comes at a time when fires and weather – 96 percent of the state is experiencing drought-like conditions – is exhausting available resources at the national and regional level.
On July 27, the National Interagency Fire Center raised the national preparedness level to 5 – the highest level – fully committing resources to various parts of the country.
In addition, all available Type I and Type 2 incident response teams within the Washington-Oregon Northwest Interagency Coordination Center region are fully committed, with more than 18 large fires burning in the region.