DNR sending crews to fight California wildfires


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than a dozen firefighters from Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources are being sent across the country to help fight wildfires.

“Currently from our state, we have approximately 14 people out,” Paul Rogers, a DNR fire prevention specialist who handles dispatching firefighters to other states, told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday.

The firefighters are being sent to California, Oregon, Washington and other states. A release said three firefighters took a DNR fire engine from Gladwin to California to help contain the Carr Fire, a blaze that has burned more than 100,000 acres and killed six people.

“(Wildfires) can grow very quickly,” Rogers said. “A lot of what you’re seeing in California, just because of the extremely low humidities, the high temperatures and the winds, it’s all just a recipe for disaster, and that’s what’s happening.”

Assistance agreements allow states to receive help from other states and even Canadian provinces in the event of a significant fire. The Michigan DNR is reimbursed for sending its crews elsewhere.

The fire season started in early in 2018. The DNR says it first sent crews to Colorado and Montana in early June.

“As this is ongoing, it’s still a growing situation. A lot of these fires in the western states really don’t die down until late September, early October, and as long as we can keep providing crews, we will,” Rogers said.

But the agency says it’s never understaffed. It always keeps enough firefighters at home to respond in the event of a local emergency.

“We’ve been under a drought,” Rogers said of Michigan. “We’re keeping an eye on that weather and we’ll only release as many resources as we feel comfortable, knowing the weather can change dramatically.

“We always maintain a certain level of firefighters in the state as where we’re at in terms of fire danger,” he added.

The fire in California is was 35 percent contained Wednesday, according to the California state government, which is releasing frequent updates on its website.

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