Northwoods forest crews help fight western wildfires - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Northwoods forest crews help fight western wildfires

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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WAOW) -

(WAOW) -- About 45 Northwoods workers are helping fight wildfires out west, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Some of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest personnel supporting efforts in Montana, Oregon, Nevada, California, South Dakota and Washington are emergency fire hires, the agency said.

“Fighting wildfires is a team effort,” said Jim Grant, Chequamegon-Nicolet's fire management officer. “The conditions fire personnel work in – the heat, smoke, mountainous terrain in the west – are all very challenging requiring a constant stream of new people coming in and others going home to rest.”

Fire assignments typically last 14 days plus travel involving 16-hour days, he said.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest also manages the Wisconsin Interagency Coordination Center, which sends crews to support firefighting efforts.

Three 20-person crews consisting of workers from the Wisconsin DNR, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Menominee Tribe have been dispatched to Arizona, Montana and Utah.

“So far this fire season, 325 Forest Service personnel have been dispatched,” Grant said. “Many of those personnel have been on multiple assignments since February when the season began in Missouri assisting with fire suppression and prescribed burns.”

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest maintains a fire staff of 23 people.

Since Aug. 10, the national preparedness level has been at level 5 -- the highest level, reflecting the high number of wildfires and the probability that severe conditions will continue, officials said.

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