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DNR employees return from fighting Oregon fires

DNR employees return from fighting Oregon fires

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After spending nearly three weeks in the northwestern United States, the Department of Natural Resources welcomed home 31 employees trained as firefighters who had been diligently working to suppress the wildfires that burned in Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho.

Under an interagency agreement, the DNR sent a hand crew comprised of 20 DNR employees to Medford, Oregon. The crew was assigned as an initial attack force tasked with suppressing a 20-acre fire burning in rugged terrain. Another 11 carried out essential fire-line leadership positions assigned to numerous wildfires.

“Fighting wildfires is an arduous and dangerous job,” said Paul Kollmeyer, manager of the DNR Forest Resources Division’s Resource Protection section. “We’re pleased to report that all DNR employees dispatched to other states have returned home safely. The skills our staff gained during the time out west will be instrumental during suppression efforts back home in Michigan.”

The DNR will continue to provide assistance to national fire efforts when conditions are critical. Nationally, there are eight large, uncontained fires currently burning in northern California and Oregon.
When sent on out-of-state assignments, the DNR is fully reimbursed for all costs associated with the support.
“The recent wildfires in the northwest are just another example of why interagency agreements are so important,” Kollmeyer said. “Due to the favorable weather in Michigan this spring and summer, the threat of wildfires was low, allowing us to lend out our services and expertise to other states. When the time comes, we’ll receive the same assistance.”
Because of Michigan’s national cooperative agreement, the DNR received fire suppression assistance from other states and federal agencies during two critical incidents in recent years. This occurred in 2007 on the 18,000-acre Sleeper Lake Fire and two years ago on the 21,000-acre Duck Lake Fire.
For more information about the DNR’s fire management efforts, visit www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.

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