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City of Helena to deploy wildland engine and crew to help fight California fires

Posted at 4:46 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 20:46:12-04

The Helena Fire Dept. will deploy a wildland engine and crew of three to California this week, at the request of Montana Disaster and Emergency Services through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

Not unlike the many local mutual-aid agreements that the Helena Fire department has in place, EMAC is an all hazards - all disciplines, mutual aid compact that serves as the cornerstone of the nation's mutual aid system.

“Sending resources to assist our neighbors in California is not unlike assisting our neighbors locally and vice versa,” Fire Chief Ken Wood said. “It is very common for firefighting resources from California to be deployed to regions in Montana when there is need. When possible, we feel it is important to reciprocate and show our support when they are in need.”

The crew from Helena will be assigned to South Operations of California and will be part of two task forces en route from Montana. Their exact assignment location is yet to be determined but will be based on specific needs within the area of operations. This will be a standard 14-day assignment with additional days for travel, as well as any additional medical testing or quarantine upon their return.

The HFD California crew is working the August Complex in northern California near Garberville, CA, instead of southern operations as initially assigned. According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, the August Complex is the largest wildfire in California history. C

Crews are on 24-hour shifts performing burning operations for structure protection in an attempt to save homes. "They are working in the mountains in a remote and hard to access area, but are staying busy and working well in a very fast-paced environment," said Asst. Fire Chief Mike Chambers.

For more information about the August Complex Fire, visit: [].