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Fire crews from Alaska are spread across the US battling blazes

Close to 400 firefighters from Alaska are currently helping fight fires in the Lower 48.
Close to 400 firefighters from Alaska are currently helping fight fires in the Lower 48.(unsplash.com)
Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 10:57 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - There are many fires burning all across the United States, with many states not being able to fight them by themselves, so Alaskans are there to help.

Tim Mowry, public information officer with the Alaska Division of Forestry, just got back from a two week assignment at the Monument Fire in California. He said assignments like this are always an experience to remember.

As fires tear through parts of the western U.S., Alaskans heard the call for help and were on their way soon after.

“As you go down there, there’s excitement, there’s a little bit of an adrenaline rush because you’re going to help some place that’s in need,” Mowry said.

The Division of Forestry said that as of Friday, there were 375 Alaska personnel working all across the Lower 48, with 199 of them in California alone. The other 176 are spread throughout other states including in Oregon, Mississippi and South Dakota.

“We try to reciprocate whenever we can to help our partners in the Lower 48 and Canada, because we get a lot of assistance from them,” Mowry said. “On busy years we don’t have the resources in Alaska to contend with a busy year in Alaska, so we ship a lot of people up from the Lower 48 and firefighting, wildland firefighting, is really a national effort.”

He also said sending these crews to fight flames across the country can also be beneficial in that it helps the firefighters grow past what they can accomplish in Alaska.

“They’re learning how to fight fire in different fuel types, in different terrain, maybe different tactics,” Mowry said. “All stuff that they bring back here and just makes for a well rounded firefighter.”

These fires also help crews financially, as when the fire season ends in Alaska many head down to the Lower 48 for work.

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