Utah Firefighters Travel To Oregon To Help With Wildfires
SALT LAKE CITY — A total of 42 firefighters from Utah left for Oregon early Sunday morning to provide much-needed help with wildfires.
The firefighters come from nine different agencies and make up two task forces.
“Everyone’s excited to get there to get to work,” said Patrick Costin, public information officer with Unified Fire Authority. “It’s been a good day so far.”
The Lone Peak Fire District posted a photo to Facebook saying their wildland crew would be joining engines from Park City, Orem City, Weber Fire District and Layton City as part of Utah Task Force 2.
A tweet from the Weber Fire District read, “So glad we can offer assistance to our neighboring States. Safe travel to all our great responders!”
Other agencies responding include Unified Fire Authority, West Valley City, Murray City and Draper City.
Officials with the Utah Division of Emergency Management said the firefighters will serve there for two weeks.
KSL-TV caught up with the band of brothers during a fuel stop about two hours outside of Bend, Oregon.
Oregon EMAC Update:
Both task forces made it to Bend, Oregon safely with no issues.
We’ll remain here overnight and head to a staging location tomorrow morning to receive our orders/assignments.
— Unified Fire (@FireAuthority) July 19, 2021
“They’ve got quite a few huge fires going,” Costin said.
Costin explained they don’t know which fires they will be assigned to, but said it could include the Bootleg Megafire, which was estimated at nearly 300,000 acres on Sunday.
“Last I checked, it grew 45,000 plus acres just yesterday,” said Costin.
The dangers the firefighters face are obvious.
August 13th will mark three years since Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett died while fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire in California.
And on Sunday night, Dan Steffenson, a firefighter from Montana, is in serious condition at the University of Utah’s Burn Center. Steffenson was working the Harris Fire outside of Joliet on Friday when he was overcome by flames during a strong wind surge.
Firefighters said they were staying optimistic.
“It’s always in the back of your head, that there is that possibility for stuff, but we do things as safely as possible because ultimately, that is the goal — that all of us get home to our families,” Costin said.
Costin said the Utah firefighters will spend the night in Bend and will receive their specific assignments there Monday morning.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The number of firefighters has been changed to 42 after officials provided KSL-TV with updated numbers. The story previously said 41.
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