The Oregon National Guard will deploy 125 volunteers Wednesday morning to help fight wildfires across the state
It’s part of “Operation Plan Smokey” issued by Governor Kate Brown in response to depleted firefighting resources.
Officials with the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training said the guardsmen and women have all the necessary skills.
“Some of these people are mechanics, they’re medics. They know how to solve problems”, Eriks Gabliks, Director of the DPSST, explained. “They’ve done that for the military, they’ve been deployed overseas and now we’re asking them to do it here in Oregon as firefighters.”
On Tuesday, the troops finished basic training in the field, including learning to cut fire lines, dig up embers and how to use a hose.
The soldiers will serve as back-up for first responders and focus on putting out hot spots.
Major Donald Holden is a former urban firefighter, but he said wildfire is a very different beast.
“It’s around you and the winds could be 60 miles an hour and it comes quick”, Holden said. “You’ve got to have spotter and water and you’ve got to be ready.”
Another 250 Oregon National Guard members arrived at the Salem training facility Tuesday evening, and they will be ready for deployment on Sunday.
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