The wildfires in the west have been increasing in both frequency and size. The current massive wildfire has burned over one million acres in the pacific northwest. Hundreds of homes have been engulfed while thousands more are currently being threatened.
Hundreds of firefighters from around the world, some as far as New Zealand and Australia, are being flown in from around the world to help out. The regional firefighter’s resources in Washington have been stretched to the limit. The lack of manpower against a truly unpredictable force of nature has led to horrible mishaps. The most recent led to the tragic death of three heroic firefighters.
At one point, the course of the wildfire changed abruptly due to shifting gusts of wind. While attempting to avoid the sudden change of course, their vehicle flipped and they were trapped. In the midst of these events, thousands are still pulling 30-hour shifts to make sure no one else falls victim.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers talked about the wildfire and the tragedy it caused.
“It’s hard when you deal with this and then you send these young guys back out in this. It’s constant, and it wears you out.”
This is why firefighters from around the world are taking up the call. Things have gotten a bit out of control to the point where the Washington Firefighters Association is calling on local residents for help. Anyone willing to help can be trained to do some busy work in the safe zones. One of the main tasks that they need significant amount of help with is digging ditches. This means anyone with experience with a bobcat or bulldozer is in high demand.
The Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark, has made the call for public help.
“If people want to help, we’d like them to contact our coordinators so we can work on getting them safely and appropriately involved, We appreciate all offers of qualified and trained support. Safety for everyone is our highest priority.“
In addition to help on the local and international level, the federal government has provided a substantial amount of resources as well. In the next day or two, a fleet of up to 14 Blackhawk helicopters will be completely devoted to the efforts. Over 250,000 gallons of water has already been dropped on various parts of the fire from the few that have already been commissioned. This means that number will inflate significantly with an entire fleet, and they need it.
This is the first time this decade that the U.S had to call on the help of international firefighters from Oceania.
[Image Credit via Viesinsh]