Virginia sends crews to help fight wildfires in West

Virginia is lending some help to crews fighting wildfires in the western U.S.

The commonwealth’s Department of Forestry has deployed 39 people “to serve as ground forces on fire line crews or as support staff in fire management roles,” according to a statement released Monday.

Such assignments normally last two weeks.

“Conditions are very physically demanding, but these are some of Virginia’s most experienced wildland firefighters,” said Bettina Ring, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry. “Their extensive training makes Virginia a leader in efforts to support other states in times of critical need.”

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are more than 100 fires in the western U.S., which have scorched over 2.3 million acres. The Dixie fire in California is the worst of them, and was still only 21% contained as of Sunday evening.

The Forestry Department said the personnel will join other Virginia firefighters from the USDA Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Such assignments help firefighters gain valuable experience, said John Miller, the department’s director of fire and emergency response, “which makes them better prepared to deal with the management of emergency incidents here in the commonwealth.”

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer. In a previous life, he helped edit The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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