Tom Story, who is in Washington documenting some of the wildfire activity, has been spending time with some of the 200 soldiers that were trained last week to assist on the fires. These are his photos, and below is his report.
Three crews from the freshly fire-trained Army Task Force First Round, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, made their first trip to the fireline August 24, 2015 when they traveled north of the Kaniksu Complex’s Tower Fire in eastern Washington to the 300-acre Onata Fire. The Incident Management Team welcomed the additional help and gave the soldiers two tasks for the day: put in some hand line and help plumb, or install fire hose, on the bottom edge of the fire along a road the team wanted to use to halt the fire’s spread.
Like most things in fire, the plans changed on the scene and the hand line assignment was cancelled and the crews were put to work putting in a 1,500 foot hose lay in preparation for a burnout. Not only did the crew haul and lay a bunch of hose, they tied in with the Forest Service’s McKenzie River Hand Crew who were doing chain saw work, prepping for the burnout, lending a hand with swamping the cut material.
The 200 U.S. Army Soldiers fromt the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington completed their firefighting training Sunday and will begin to perform actual fireline work Monday on the Tower Fire in eastern Washington near the Idaho border.
Approximately 200 U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington have been activated to assist in the suppression of wildfires during a period when over 32,000 regular wildland firefighters are deployed but still more help is needed.
The Soldiers were trained at their base by wildland fire agency personnel, including the Bureau of Land Management Vegas Valley Crew comprised entirely of military veterans. They arrived at the Tower Fire in western Washington near the Idaho border late in the afternoon on August 22, where Tom Story captured some images.