MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Firefighters along the West Coast are battling dozens of raging wildfires, which have left at least 35 people dead so far. In response, several Minnesota fire departments are sending reinforcements to help, particularly in Oregon, parts of which are experiencing wildfires unlike any seen in the recent past.
On Tuesday, State Fire Marshal Jim Smith said 29 firefighters headed straight into danger as thousands flee the deadly wildfires.
“We are proud of them and thank them for volunteering to help,” Smith said.
Gov. Tim Walz says the firefighters, along with nine trucks, are headed to Salem, Oregon, where state officials requested emergency backup through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The two task forces will be comprised of firefighters from different parts of the state, including Eden Prairie, Brainerd and Bemidji.
“They’ve lost towns, they’ve lost lives,” Ward Parker, the assistant fire chief of Eden Prairie, said. “That state is hurting, and I hope that if this happened in Minnesota, other states would reach out and do what we’re doing and come here. We’re just paying it forward.”
Oregon officials requested 10 fire strike teams from around the country to help battle the wildfires in the state, where at least 10 people have died and thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes.
Once the crews arrive in Oregon, they’ll be there for two weeks, tasked with protecting buildings, assessing damage and assisting local fire departments.