Alaska firefighters sent to battle California wildfires

Some Alaskans are helping with the California wildfire response. Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says the state is one of several being tapped for assistance through the National Interagency Coordination Center.

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”With the activity they’ve got going down there, those fires and the severity of them, there is a shortage of resources,” Mowry said. “So they have had to reach out to other areas.”

Mowry says Alaska firefighting crews disband for the winter, but some fire management professionals are available to fill a variety of response jobs in California.

”So mostly, it’s management and overhead, safety officers, field observers, division supervisors,” Mowry said. “There was an order for a public information officer the other day. But mainly it’s management and supervisory positions.”

Mowry says the assignments are for two weeks, but can be extended an additional week.

”Given the situation in California and the volatility of these fires in the fields down there, who knows how long these events are gonna go on,” Mowry said.

Mowry says the extreme situation in California is hard to comprehend in a sparsely populated state like Alaska.

”They can be evacuating half the state of Alaska essentially,” Mowry said. “So anything we can do to help them, we’re gonna do.”

Thirty-one are known dead in wind driven wildfires in Northern and Southern California. Hundreds more people are missing, and thousands of homes and businesses haven been destroyed.