Active duty infantry mobilizing to serve as firefighters, 1.4 million acres on fire

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, return from attacking a simulated enemy force. They battalion has been recently tasked with a firefighting mission. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Roberto Moore, Operations Group, National Training Center)

BOISE, ID – The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is mobilizing active duty infantry and engineer military personnel to serve as firefighters to assist with wildfire suppression efforts.

Currently, more than 80 large wildfires are burning on about 1.4 million acres in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — with nearly 28,000 firefighters and support personnel working on them, said NIFC spokeswoman Jennifer Jones.

The National Preparedness Level is currently at 5 — the highest level — indicating a high level of wildfire activity and a high level of commitment of wildfire suppression assets (i.e. firefighters, aircraft, and engines) to wildfires. “Weather and fuel conditions are predicted to continue to be conducive to wildfire ignitions and spread in most of the western U.S. through September — and in parts of the Northern Rockies and California through October,” Jones said.

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group at NIFC requested the Department of Defense to provide 200 active duty military personnel to assist with firefighting efforts.

“The DoD has approved the request and identified the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion and 1st Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment), 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington to provide the active duty military personnel,” Jones stated. “The soldiers will be organized into ten crews of twenty persons each, all of which will be sent to the Umpqua North Complex, which is burning on approximately 30,000 acres on the Umpqua National Forest, approximately fifty miles east of Roseburg, Oregon.”

“The U.S. military is a key partner in wildland firefighting and we greatly appreciate their willingness to provide us with Soldiers to serve as firefighters as well as aircraft to help with wildfire suppression efforts,” said Dan Buckley, Chair of NMAC.


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