Ohio’s woodland firefighters at work out West

Ohio Forestry Firefighters 1

(Photo courtesy of Ohio DNR Division of Forestry)

Wildfires continue to burn out West with firefighters from numerous states, including Ohio, joining the battle against the blazes.

Last week, it was estimated that at least 100 fires were burning in a dozen states, with more likely to occur as a result of continuing dry, windy conditions.

Ohio has three crews of firefighters on the lines, according to an Ohio DNR spokesperson. Some of them are employees of the agency’s Division of Forestry.

While most media attention seems to be focused on the big Dixie Fire in northern California, there are other, less publicized blazes, ongoing in the same area.

One is in Six Rivers National Forest near the California-Oregon border and ODNR has three employees working there. The McCash Fire, which began with a lightning strike on July 31, has burned more than 37,000 acres and is threatening several small communities. It has 0 percent containment and projections are that it will continue to burn until the end of September.

Two ODNR employees are on the Whitetail Creek Fire in Montana. That fire began a week ago and has burned 340 acres just east of Flathead Lake.

A Type 2 Hand Crew that includes five ODNR employees is on a fire in northern Minnesota, although I am not sure which one. There are several burning there, including one that closed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area – a popular tourist and adventure destination.

A hand crew is a group (generally 20 people) that works near the front lines of a wildfire. Members use picks, axes, and other equipment to clear flammable material from the path of a fire and build fire lines.

Ohio is part of a national compact that allows specially trained wildland firefighters to apply their skills wherever they are needed throughout the country. And while California has the largest contingent of these trained firefighters, this year’s fires have been so severe and numerous the state has called for help from all over the country.

Ohio is reimbursed for services rendered by the men and women dispatched out of state by the federal government. So, no money is lost.

And it is a benefit to the state to have them on these big (named) fires because they learn skills needed to suppress wildland fires back home. Besides that, the folks who do this kind of work love it!!

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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