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DNR sends firefighters, engines to help fight California wildfires

DNR sends firefighters, engines to help fight California wildfires
Captured on 19 August 2020, this Copernicus Sentinel-3 image shows the extent of the smoke from fires currently ablaze in California, US. Amid the blistering heatwave, which is in its third week, there are around 40 separate wildfires across the state. Record high temperatures, strong winds and thunderstorms have created the dangerous conditions that have allowed fires to ignite and spread. The fires are so extreme in regions around the San Francisco Bay Area that thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate. Photo by European Space Agency (ESA).

The first wave of Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters is preparing equipment to leave for California with off-road fire engines to help fight raging wildfires there.

“The California wildfires have devastated thousands of families, and Michigan is ready to help in any way we can,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The highly trained firefighters from the Michigan DNR regularly assist other parts of the country that are in need. Just like when California sent us ventilators in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re prepared to help our friends on the West Coast protect families, businesses, and wildlife from these fires.”

DNR firefighters volunteer for out-of-state assignments through a nationwide cooperative system and may be assigned to any state in need. Firefighters are matched with the area that has the greatest need for their skills and equipment. Plenty of firefighters also stay home to make sure Michigan’s needs are covered while volunteer teams are working elsewhere.

Currently, 15 states from Florida to Alaska are battling wildfires, with most concentrated in western states. Wildfires have engulfed vineyards in California, forced thousands to evacuate and burned homes and businesses. Firefighters in Arizona, Oregon and Colorado also are fighting multiple blazes at once.

Out-of-state assignments are valuable to firefighters who want to increase their experience and learn skills they can use to fight fires at home. Michigan is fully reimbursed for expenses when firefighters travel to assist other states.

Learn more about the DNR’s wildland firefighting program at Michigan.gov/FireManagement.

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