Michigan -(Ammoland.com)- Fourteen Michigan Department of Natural Resources employees, who are trained as firefighters, currently are helping to contain wildfires in Alaska and Manitoba.
Three four-man crews have been dispatched to Manitoba to assist with its ongoing wildfire suppression efforts. Manitoba is a partner in the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact, which also consists of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario. Additionally, two DNR employees are serving in leadership roles on the Tanana Area fires – the largest complex of wildfires currently burning in Alaska.
“Cooperative efforts between counties, states and countries are crucial during emergency situations,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division. “The experience our highly trained staff receives when they are on out-of-state assignments is an asset when they are fighting wildfires here at home.”
The DNR will continue to provide assistance to the national fire efforts while fire conditions remain critical. Nationally, there are nine large uncontained fires currently burning, with 163 new fires that started July 21.
When sent on out-of-state assignments, the DNR is fully reimbursed for all costs associated with the support.
O’Neill stressed that while some employees were sent to assist western wildfire efforts, the state is still well-equipped to handle wildfires should one occur in Michigan.
“This is truly a win-win situation,” he said. “We provide the expertise of our qualified and experienced staff when they are needed outside of Michigan and the favor is returned when we need a hand during large incidents.”
Because of Michigan’s national cooperative agreement, the DNR received fire-suppression assistance from other states, federal agencies and the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact during two critical incidents in recent years. This occurred in 2007 on the 18,000-acre Sleeper Lake fire and three years ago on the 21,000-acre Duck Lake fire.
So far this year, the DNR has provided suppression on 297 wildfires, which burned 2,730 acres.
For more information about the DNR’s fire management efforts, visit www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.