Death Toll Reaches 15 in Three Western State Wildfires
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
At least 15 people have died so far from wildfires still burning in California, Oregon and Washington, CNN reported Friday. National Guard units have also been deployed into the blazing infernos.
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"Authorities found seven bodies in Northern California on Thursday as firefighters battled multiple ravaging wildfires, raising the total number of victims in the state to 10," CNN said. "At least five others have been killed in Washington state and Oregon this week amid a series of out of control wildfires."
"Swaths of the small southern Oregon cities of Phoenix and Talent now lie in ash, satellite images show, as wildfires wage unprecedented destruction," CNN added.
In Oregon, some 500,000 people have been evacuated, and that number is expected to grow, the State of Oregon Newsroom reported. Firefighters there are battling “a record 900,000 acres of wildfires across Oregon,” the official site said.
Canadian Firefighting Crews Assist with Fire Suppression Efforts in California
Earlier this month, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, mobilized three wildland firefighting hand crews from Quebec, Canada, to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in California.
Currently, 112 wildfires are burning across the western U.S. and more than 5.5 million acres have burned nationally this year. Above- normal fire activity is occurring in northern California, Arizona, Colorado, and some other states, said the NIFC, which reported the military assistance.
Some 233 soldiers from the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Joint Base LewisMcChord, Washington, are deployed in support of the August Complex, now the largest in California history, surpassing the Mendocino Complex fire of August 2018.
'Significant Fire Spread' Has Scorched 736 Square Miles of August Complex Fire
The U.S. Forest Service said that as of Thursday morning the August Complex had scorched 471,185 acres (736 square miles) and was only 24% contained. "Northeast winds continued through most of the day Wednesday," fire officials told Fox News, causing "significant fire spread ... and heavy smoke production across the area."
In addition, one RC-26 aircraft with Distributed Real-Time Infrared (DRTI) capability and support personnel from the 141st Air Refueling Wing (Washington Air National Guard) has been deployed to Fairchild AFB, Spokane, Wash., in support of wildland fire operations there.
Two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System MAFFS C-130 airtankers and support personnel each from the 153rd Airlift Wing (Wyoming Air National Guard) and the 146th Airlift Wing (California Air National Guard) have been deployed to support wildland fire operations in California.
'Significant Wildland Fire Potential' Predicted for the Rest of September
According to the NIFC, its National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) requested the assistance after determining that the U.S. was "in need of additional crew support on large fires burning in the West." The NMAC prioritizes and allocates resources when there are critical shortages of national resources such as smokejumpers, airtankers, or Type 1 Incident Management Teams.
NMAC members include fire managers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA Forest Service, FEMA, the U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Association of State Foresters.
Even more assistance may be required as the NIFC foresees a "significant wildland fire potential" for the rest of September.