Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a crew of 20 employees and volunteers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are traveling to the West Coast to assist in the containment of fires burning in Northern California and throughout the West. DEC has an additional four state forest rangers working out west that left earlier this month.
“New Yorkers help their neighbors in their time of need and today these emergency responders continue this tradition by deploying to the West Coast to help battle these devastating wildfires,” Governor Cuomo said. “I commend these men and women for their bravery and look forward to their safe return.”
The DEC employees and volunteers deployed will join crews from other states in flying to California, Washington and Oregon, where they will then be transported to a fire base camp. The wildfires are burning tens of thousands of acres with most started from lightning in late July. Many homes are threatened by the spread of any of these fires.
“The work of DEC’s firefighting team serves as a great example of how states can work together and share resources during times of adversity,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Marc Gerstman. “We wish them a safe and successful trip out west and will welcome the team home with much gratitude for their courageous work.”
The New York team is expected to be active in fighting fires for two weeks. All personnel travel and administrative costs for the crew will be paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to the state.
New York first sent a firefighting crew to assist western states in fighting large wildfires in 1979, and, on average, one or two crews have been sent to assist each year. In addition, to helping contain the western wildfires and minimize damage, these crews also gain valuable experience that can be utilized in fighting wildfires in New York.
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