'This is what we do': Alberta firefighters head to Oregon to help battle wildfires
Published Tuesday, September 15, 2020 9:58PM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 16, 2020 6:45PM MDT
EDMONTON -- Alberta Wildfire is sending 45 firefighters to Oregon to help stop the fires that have destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least 10 people in the state.
Almost 1.2 million acres have been destroyed in Oregon alone as 80 major wildfires across three western states have killed at least 34 people.
“It’s bad. They’re overwhelmed,” said Alberta Wildfire veteran Trina Grosse, one of the firefighters that will arrive in Oregon Friday to join 20 Alberta firefighters already on the ground.
"They've had a number of wildfires that have come together to create some of the largest wildfires in Oregon state history."
Oregon Governor Kate Brown says the state has been pushed to its limits.
“It's really hard for all of us to wrap our heads around the devastation these fires have caused, and the pain and suffering that so many Oregonians have endured."
Oregon requested more than 400 wildland firefighters. With COVID-19 forcing every Albertan to quarantine when they return north, 300 still made the decision to leave their families and full time jobs.
“We still have firefighters in Alberta that are available to support wildfire operations, but we felt we were able to support Oregon with 20 firefighters going along with 25 overhead resources," Grosse said.
Those 20 firefighters will be on the ground helping American crews put out fires, while the overhead resources include people who specialize in operations, logistics and planning.
In 2019, over 400 American firefighters helped Alberta battle one of its worst wildfire seasons in recently history.
Grosse and her crews can’t wait to return the favour.
"This is what we do, when duty calls, when there is an opportunity for us to repay what's been provided for Alberta and Canada, the province of Alberta very quickly will put up our hand to assist where possible," said Grosse.
“We are incredibly grateful that our calls for assistance are also being answered, with crews from all over the country and Canada coming to help,” added Governor Brown.