Recent lightning storms and the elevated threat of wildfires have prompted the Oregon State Fire Marshal to pre-position firefighting task forces in Deschutes and Klamath counties this week.
A task force from the valley arrived today. Central Oregon Daily News caught up with them at the Redmond Air Base.
Thirteen firefighters, four engines and one water tender from the Marion County are here to help if fires break loose during the hot streak of weather we are expecting.
“The Ideal result would be an incident starts and the incident commander will realize its growing too fast for their resources and mutual aid resources,” said David Call, Regional Mobilization Coordinator for Office of State Fire Marshal, Central Oregon region. “They will reach out to me and talking through partners, we’ll try to get this task force to deploy as either immediate response or as backfill to make sure that if they are out on an incident, there is coverage in their district.”
The firefighters from Salem, Aumsville, Hubbard and Keizer are staying in Redmond hotels.
Until there is need for their services, they are familiarizing themselves with Central Oregon area, training with local fire departments, and taking tours of facilities such as the Redmond Air Center.
“This was a very good learning experience for me to see how the Redmond Air Base runs. I’ve called for and seen retardant dropped multiple times. Now getting to see how they load the planes and how they operate is a true treat,” said Michael Berger, Marion County Fire Department
On Saturday, another task force from Benton County will be mobilize and pre-position in Klamath County.
These are this second and third task forces re-assigned this way this year.
“We had a prepositioned task force two weeks ago from Lane County during the Fly Creek Fire at Lake Billy Chinook. We had them prepositioned here in case there were more lightning strikes that turned into fires. I had them here three or four days, then they got tapped to go up to the Miller Road Fire. They were in the perfect location to head up Highway 97 past Maupin and jump on that fire. They were part of the immediate response,” Call said.
Cost of the pre-positioned task forces are covered by the state of Oregon.