Members of the Oregon National Guard are assisting with the Double Creek Fire by staffing the locations where the roads are closed all around it. The U.S. Forest Service classifies the Double Creek Fire, which has burned 157,000 acres in Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, as a mega-fire. The fire that was ignited by a lightning strike is currently 81% contained, according to the Oregon Forestry Department.
Since the fire broke out on September 10, the Oregon National Guard has been on the scene and has lately replaced several staff members with new soldiers to ensure safety and security. The barricades are there to safeguard locals as well as wildland firefighters.
“The National Guard is the last resource called in to come in and help,” said Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Decker, who has volunteered since the Rum Creek Fire in Josephine County. “So we come in, we help with these TAPs (Traffic Assistance Points), where we’re out there trying to keep everyone safe.”
Many people are drawn to the natural beauty and outdoor activities of Wallowa County, which is a fairly rural location.
It’s hunting season, so you know they want to go hunting, have their tags, and want to fill them, according to Decker. We acknowledge it, but it’s unsafe for both the firefighters and the victims.
As the officer in charge of the National Guard unit and an IT specialist employed by Salem Hospital in his day job, Maj. Joshua Reese of the Oregon National Guard said, “As a Citizen-Soldier, it’s an honor to serve my fellow Oregonians and help keep people safe.”
His fellow guardsmen support fire operations. “I’m incredibly proud of our squad; some of these troops and airmen have been operating these closure sites on State Active Duty [orders] for over 28 days.”
The motto of the Oregon National Guard is “Always Ready, Always There,” and they have a history of assisting in the suppression of wildland fires. The guard has several prepared firefighting squads that are prepared to respond if necessary to assist overworked civilian firefighting crews.
Furthermore, Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen serve as volunteers for one weekend each month and two weeks each year. The National Guard is the main military force that provides support to the areas where its members reside.
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