Friday, August 21, 2015

Army Sending 200 Soldiers to Fight Wildfires

Army Sends 200 Soldiers to Battle Wildfires in Pacific Northwest
Kris Osborn
August 20, 2015
Firefighters and Washington National Guard soldiers work to extinguish hot spots on a hillside as they fight the First Creek Fire, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, near Chelan, Wash (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Army is mobilizing 200 active-duty troops to help firefighters battle deadly wildfires in the Pacific Northwest at the request of the Idaho-based National Interagency Fire Center, service officials said.

The move comes a day after three firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service died when they were overcome by the blaze in a rural part of Washington state.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter approved the request and is sending the 17th Field Artillery Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington to provide military support to the ongoing fire suppression efforts, officials said.

"It is an honor and a privilege to serve our nation," said Lt. Col. James Dunwoody, commander of the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The soldiers will be organized into ten crews of 20 persons each. They will head to the so-called Tower fire in the Coleville National Forest north of Spokane.
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