Firefighters deploy from Oregon to fight California blazes
California is calling on its neighbors for help as fire crews battle several out-of-control wildfires across the Golden State — and Washington County has answered.
As they did in 2017 and 2018, firefighters rolled out from Washington County to assist California fire crews and others on Sunday, Oct. 27. One of those Washington County firefighters, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Assistant Chief Les Hallman, was placed in charge of nine "strike teams" from different parts of Oregon.
"We sent 33 people from TVF&R, nine different pieces of apparatus and three of our chief vehicles," said Tim Nokes, a spokesman for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. "Three of our battalion chiefs also went down as task force leaders."
Among those joining the 33 TVF&R firefighters: three from Hillsboro Fire & Rescue, two from Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, three from the Cornelius Fire Department, three from the Banks Fire District, and three from the Gaston Rural Fire District.
Neighboring Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah and Yamhill counties are also among those contributing firefighters and equipment to the effort.
"It's very humbling to be a part of a large-scale mobilization of resources and see how quickly Oregon can respond in a time of need," said Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker in a statement. "To assemble 75 fire engines and 271 firefighters in a matter of hours to respond to our neighbors in need is extraordinary."
The firefighters could be deployed for as long as 16 days.
Hallman's strike teams were deployed to fight the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, California. As of Monday, that fire had spread to more than 66,000 acres and forced about 180,000 evacuations, and it's only about 10% contained, according to officials.
Nokes said the California state government asked for heavy brush rigs to help fight the wildfires.
It used to be uncommon that wildfires in California were severe enough that firefighters from as far away as Washington County were called to assist. However, it has happened multiple times over the past two years or so, including an October 2017 deployment that was also to fight fires in California's wine country.
By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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