COLLEGE STATION — Last week, a Texas A&M Forest wildfire handcrew was mobilized to the Cedar Creek Fire in Oregon. This 20-person crew is supporting the Willamette National Forest on the wildfire burning more than 112,000-acres.
The Lone Star State Type II Initial Attack Handcrew is comprised of highly skilled and well-trained individuals from all divisions of the Texas A&M Forest Service. This is the third year in a row the handcrew has mobilized for wildfire response in another state.
“Mobilizing the handcrew to out-of-state incidents provides an opportunity for qualified personnel and trainees to gain unique experiences,” said Crockett Pegoda, Crew Boss Trainee for the Lone Star State Handcrew. “In Texas, we were fortunate to receive support from other states this year. It’s great that we can reciprocate that support.”
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 94 large fires burning across the United States with more than 15,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel committed to these incidents.
Thirty-four Texas A&M Forest Service personnel are responding to wildfire incidents in California, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
In addition to the handcrew, two engine crews and multiple support personnel are supporting wildfires in other states. All resources will complete an assignment lasting 14 to 21 days before returning to Texas.
Since Jan. 1, state, federal and local firefighters, including Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, have responded to 9,481 wildfires for 638,540 acres burned across Texas. During what became the most significant wildfire season since 2011, Texas A&M Forest Service mobilized more than 4,400 firefighters and support staff from across the nation to support the state’s response.
“We received a tremendous amount of support from land management and forestry agencies across the country during an extended fire season,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “Sending our personnel to incidents outside Texas not only ensures that states have essential personnel and resources to manage their incidents but also provides crucial training opportunities for our staff, allowing us to increase our capacity in Texas.”
The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group moved the National Preparedness Level to 3 out of 5, as multiple states experience wildfire activity with a large commitment from national resources.
The state of Texas moved to Level 1 on Sept. 6 due to rainfall through the end of August and a significant decrease in wildfire activity across the state. Wildfire potential across the state remains low.
Texas A&M Forest Service is dedicated to protecting Texas’ residents and natural resources from wildfire and all-hazard incidents, even as national activity increases. The agency continues to monitor conditions and assess needs locally.
For current conditions and wildfire outlook, read the Texas Fire Potential Outlook at https://bit.ly/3kemhbG.
For additional information on the Texas A&M Forest Service Lone Star State Type II Initial Attack Hand Crew, visit https://bit.ly/LSSHandCrew.