A Group of North Dakota Firefighters are packing up and heading out West.
As fires rip across the west coast the need for help is higher than ever.
Three teams from various North Dakota fire departments are dropping everything and are currently on their way to Oregon.
“What’s going on right now in the west from California all the way through Oregon and Washington we’re seeing entire communities being burned to the ground,” says Ryan Melin, the Fire Manager for the North Dakota Forest Department.
Firefighters from Williston, Grand Forks, and Fargo have volunteered through the state’s Forest Service to assist departments in Oregon in any way they can.
“Most of the fire departments have lost their fire stations. Lost a lot of their fire equipment or they’ve been fighting fires for two, three weeks while their own homes burn,” says Melin.
Through the emergency management assistance compact agreement, Oregon asked states to send help.
In 24 hours, 13 men packed up equipment that will assist them in structural assessment, post-fire, and responding to 911 calls.
“When you get out to these types of assignments that could change in a second. And so we also need to pack gear for wildland,” says Dane Carley, the Fargo Battalion Chief.
The team is expected to be gone for up to 21 days.
“It’s a big commitment to do this kind of stuff, you know. When the chief called me for this deployment, it didn’t take me very long to make the decision to go. My first thoughts was how is my family going to cope with it,” says Mitch Byman, a Williston Engineer.
“We rely on a lot of people back home to help each other out. Like I said spouses, and friends and families to kind of fill in for us,” explains Nathan Norgren, a Grand Forks Fire Fighter.
Melin says this is the first time individual fire departments from North Dakota are sending teams to assist in another state.
The 13 men are in addition to the 6 the Forest Service already sent last week. At this time, they’re not sure if more will be needed at the end of the 21 days.