U.S. Forest Service Firefighters from California Battle Blazes in Arizona and Texas

VALLEJO, Calif., June. 10, 2011 – A slower than normal start to the wildfire season in California has allowed about 1,200 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service to assist with blazes in the Southwest, including the historic Wallow Fire, which has now burned over 389,000 acres in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

“In California, we frequently receive assistance from other states during multiple fire outbreaks and other periods of high fire activity,” said Joseph C. Millar, Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the U.S. Forest Service in California. “The combination of favorable conditions over most of our region and the fact that it’s June and we’re fully staffed has allowed us to reciprocate this valuable assistance.”

Among the resources that have been deployed are 27 hotshot crews, 8 Type 2 Initial Attack Crews, 60 fire engines, 17 smokejumpers, 12 bulldozers, 11 water tenders and over 150 personnel in various fire support positions. Nine contract crews and 4 additional contract engines bring the total number of personnel from California to an estimated 1,400. Fire crews from California are assigned to over a dozen separate blazes in the Southwest.
Forest Service fire and incident management resources are frequently dispatched to priority fires and all risk incidents across the U.S. Significant fire prevention and suppression assistance has been provided to Texas and other parts of the Southwest for over four months, but not at the numbers of resources currently seen.
Crews from the Stanislaus National Forest have been engaged in fire fighting off of the Forest for several weeks. The Groveland Hotshots, 6 engines and 14 additional support staff members have been dispatch to fires in the Southwestern states. The Stanislaus Hotshots returned home yesterday from the Wallow Fire in Arizona to begin a rest period.

California has experienced a modest amount of fire activity thus far, mostly at lower elevations where seasonal grasses are almost fully cured. As vegetation continues to dry out and temperatures increase throughout the summer, fire activity is expected to increase. Runoff from heavy snowpack in the Sierra and other mountain ranges also continues to influence fire conditions.
For more information on the Wallow Fire and other wildfire activity on public lands across the U.S., please visit: www.inciweb.org.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.