News, OREGON, Wildfire

Oregon Dept. of Forestry sends 19 firefighters to New Mexico

Another batch of Oregon Department of Forestry firefighters are heading to the aid of another state—New Mexico this time—to help battle raging wildfires.

According to ODF, 19 firefighters this week have been sent to New Mexico to help out at numerous wildfires burning out of control.

“Many of the firefighters arrived in the state today and the rest will arrive within the next day,” ODF said in a press release issued Friday.

The crews are expected to remain there for two weeks, which will help local firefighters, but also provide practice opportunities for Oregon firefighters in advance of the Oregon fire season, which usually hits later in the summer.

In an email to this newspaper, ODF spokesperson Jessica Neujahr said that one of the 19 firefighters sent to New Mexico is based out of ODF’s Forest Grove District, marking another instance of a local firefighter aiding a state in need.

The deployment of firefighters to other states is allowed under mutual assistance agreements between the states; Oregon has benefitted from such deployments as well; in 2023, Oregon was aided by 173 out-of-state firefighters, according to the ODF.

Because wildfire activity in Oregon is currently low, the resources can be spared, ODF said.

So far in 2024, Oregon has deployed:

  • 48 firefighters to Texas
  • 14 firefighters to Alaska
  • Five firefighters to California
  • Two firefighters to Tennessee
  • One firefighter to Washington
  • One firefighter to Florida
  • One firefighter to New Mexico (this deployment is separate from the current one)

“These agreements help bolster the complete and coordinated fire protection system across the continent and create a cache of reciprocal resources for all of us to call on when needed.” Chris Cline, ODF’s Fire Protection Division Chief, explained.

“We do our best to answer the call when it comes in from any of our wildland partners as we’ve been on the other side of the equation and we understand how difficult it can be to need help so desperately,” said Cline. “But know that we don’t share these resources without appropriate vetting. Before committing to any out-of-state deployment, we make sure that our own fire management system is still adequately staffed and ready to respond to fires here in Oregon. Serving Oregonians is our first and primary priority.”

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

Sign up for free Gales Creek news in your inbox ↓

The groceries your family needs!

New patients only, no cash value, cannot be combined with any other offers