Oregon crews, engines sent to battle N.M. wildfires

Back home, Red Flag Warning out as fire season off to busy start

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Forestry has sent a strike team of fire engines to New Mexico to help fight wildfires burning there, the agency said Friday.

Five ODF fire engines are being trucked to a staging area near Albuquerque, while the crews flew down, officials said.

One engine has arrived, and the rest were expected Friday. The engine crews include 10 ODF and three Coos Forest Protective Association personnel.  

ODF and other Western states routinely share firefighting resources as needed.

"This is an opportune time for the department to send the strike teams, as fire activity in Oregon is currently moderate," the agency said. "And the arrangement is reciprocal: If ODF needs outside help on fires in Oregon, its partner agencies will provide personnel and equipment when possible."

While in New Mexico, the crews will be paid by the jurisdictional agency on the fires.

"ODF considers the out-of-state deployment a valuable opportunity for its firefighters to maintain and develop their skills required for national certification," the statement said.

While there have been no new large fires in Oregon in recent days, a Red Flag Warning was issued by the National Weather Service for extreme fire weather in areas of Oregon and Washington from noon to 8 p.m. Friday.

And Oregon's fire season is off to a busier start than normal, according to statistics provided Friday for the 16 million acres of private and public forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

January 1, 2013, through Friday:
Lightning-caused fires: 45 fires burned 18 acres
Human-caused fires: 149 fires burned 712 acres
Total: 194 fires burned 730 acres

10-year average (Jan. 1 through the present date in the year):
Lightning-caused fires: 15 fires burned 17 acres
Human-caused fires: 87 fires burned 246 acres
Total: 102 fires burned 263 acres

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