Resources in Washington and Oregon are stretched to the limit for battling the multiple blazes that have popped up in both states in the last two weeks.
To augment the crews on the ground and in the air, the Wyoming Air National Guard sent two C-130 tankers to assist with fire-retardant drops. The tankers will be based in Boise, Idaho, initially, and can be reassigned to other areas if necessary. They began mission drops this morning; each tanker is able to dispense 3,000 gallons of retardant at a time.
Earlier in the week 25 members of the Oregon National Guard mobilized to help fight wildfires in Central Oregon in response to Gov. Kitzhaber’s declaration of a state of emergency. The Oregon Air Guard deployed two Chinook helicopters from Pendleton and two Blackhawks from Salem to fight the blazes with water drops from above. The Blackhawk water buckets carry about 780 gallons of water at one time, while the Chinook's buckets can drop 1,400 gallons of water with each run.
The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said currently there are some 5,000 firefighters battling existing blazes with additional teams brought in from Utah, Montana, and Nevada. Hotshot crews have flown into Oregon and Washington from, California, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, and Illinois. One hotshot crew came from as far away as Mississippi.
Washington’s Gov. Jay Inslee, who has also declared his state to be in emergency status, said there are dozens of fires burning in the central and eastern parts of the state. He indicated that active duty military could be called into service if necessary.
In addition to Washington Air National Guard, the Department of Natural Resources and the Washington State Patrol have also deployed aircraft.
Heat, low humidity, and high winds have fueled fires in both states. One inferno wiped out the entire small town of Pateros in Central Washington.