BLAINE – Two firefighters from the Spring Lake Park- Blaine- Mounds View Fire Department are part of a Minnesota contingent battling wildfires in Oregon. In all, 29 Minnesota firefighters got the call to help in Oregon for at least two weeks.
“I would call it a new challenge for them to go there and help with the wildfires,” said SBM Fire Chief Charlie Smith.
The two veteran SBM firefighters left in a rescue vehicle specially outfitted for rough terrain fires. Their job will be to help protect homes, cabins, and other structures in the southern Oregon town of Selma.
“Selma is about 50 miles to the west of Phoenix, Oregon which three days ago was almost totally destroyed by wildfire. So this is a new start they’re going to,” said Smith.
The fire near Selma quickly grew to 146,000 acres. It will be dirty, labor-intensive work in tough terrain.
“Just dirty, physical labor is what it is. They’ll be moving woodpiles cutting brush.”
Providing wildfire protect will be a change of pace for suburban firefighters accustomed to a different set of challenges.
“They won’t be out on their own,” says Chief Smith. “They will be assigned to a larger division that will have very experienced wild land firefighting personnel, to provide expertise we don’t necessarily have.”
Smith says the firefighters wanted to go, it’s part of their nature to help when needed.
“I expect very intense days for the crews out there in the coming weeks,” said Smith.
This is a 19 day deployment. Other local firefighters could be sent in to replace them.