COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Three Ohio Wildlife crews have been dispatched this summer to assist with combating western wildfires that have scorched more than 8.2 million acres in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
The ODNR Division of Forestry has been assisting other states when needed since 1986, using staff volunteers and firefighters from around Ohio, who are quickly deployed, usually within eight hours after a call-up, and sent on missions around the country to battle wildfires.
Nearly a million acres have burned in the state of Washington, where three firefighters died and four others injured in a blaze near Twisp, Washington, on August 19, when a rapidly spreading fire engulfed the retreating crew.
The risks are assessed by each team, but the challenges are great in rugged terrain, who must battle unpredictable winds and searing heat.
Alistair Reynolds, an invasive plant forester with the state Division of Forestry has completed three stints in the West in the past few years, recently returning from California. He is always ready to go back, if needed.
“The wildfire season is not over yet, and we are still sending resources out, so I have my name on the list,” he said.
This fire season will likely be one of the five worst on record in the United Sates—all occurring since 2000. More than 100 wildfires have erupted, and nearly 29,000 firefighters have been deployed. Local residents consider them heroes, risking their lives to protect homes and property in rugged terrain under dangerous conditions.