Firefighters from Southern Utah sent to fight wildfires in Oregon, California that have burned millions of acres

ST. GEORGE — Local firefighters from multiple departments were sent to help fight fires across the West that have destroyed thousands of structures and left many either missing or dead.

A firetruck is destroyed as firefighters in Oregon fight one of more than 20 fires burning throughout the state | Photo courtesy of Oregon Strong, St. George News

Firefighters from Washington City were deployed to Oregon, where 22 fires have burned through 1 million acres, as part of a mobilization of 80 firefighters sent from across the state, while firefighters from Littlefield, Arizona were sent to fight one of many fires burning in California.

The Unified Fire Authority sent 35 of the 80 that were sent to Oregon as part of a Strike Force 1 Task Force made up of firefighters from departments throughout the state, with the primary mission being to search for victims by combing through the dense residential homes destroyed by the fire.

This is only the second time a federal strike force has been deployed since the 2018 fires in Paradise, California.

The task force includes three firefighters from Washington City that were deployed to Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, Washington City Fire Captain Julio Reyes told St. George News.

Firefighters have teamed up with other task force teams and are working to create defensible space around the homes as the fire continues to burn slowly in their direction, creating a heavy haze where the air quality index rating rose above 300, which was followed by the recommendation that “everyone should stay indoors.”

Task Forces from the state of Washington and Nevada were also mobilized as three of the 28 federal urban search and rescue response teams in the United States that are trained for a variety of emergencies and disasters.

So far, the 29 fires burning across Oregon have spread through more than 1 million acres and have left at least 8 people dead, and many more are still missing as the search through the more than 3,200 incinerated homes and other structures continues. The fires have also left more than 3,000 residents across the state displaced, according to the Wildfire Dashboard.

The Oregon State Emergency Management Center reported that a mobile morgue has been set up in Linn County by the Oregon State Police, a first in the agency’s history, according to the Oregon State Emergency Management Center.

A crew from the Cedar City Fire Department was deployed to fight the Grouse Fire burning along the boundary of the Boise and Sawtooth National Forests about 6 miles northeast of Pine, Idaho, Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips said.

As of Wednesday, that fire, which started Sept. 6, has burned through nearly 3,800 acres is now 23% contained, according to the Incident Information System. 

A video of the Slater Fire in California as well as the multiple fires burning across Oregon is included in this report. Footage and images were provided courtesy of multiple sources, including Unified Fire Authority, Utah Task Force 1, Oregon Strong and many others as listed in the credits shown in the gallery. 

To the south, the Beaver Dam-Littlefield Fire Department sent three firefighters and a Type III wildland fire engine to Happy Camp, California where the Slater Fire has burned through more than 136,000 acres, including sections of the Klamath National Forest, and is still only 10% contained, Beaver Dam Fire Chief Jeff Hunt said.

The Slater Fire started Sept. 8 and has burned through 150 homes and left two dead. On Tuesday, it was joined by the Devil Fire burning in the Siskiyou National Forest and into Oregon.

Hunt went on to say the department sent the three-man crew as a single-resource team that was deployed to actively fight the fire burning along the border of California and Oregon. His crew is expected to remain in California for 14-21 days, depending on the progress and whether the blaze is contained by then.

Crews have been “extremely busy over the last several days but are doing very well,” he said.

So far this year, there have been more than 7,600 fires reported in California that have burned through more than 2.2 million acres, destroying 5,800 structures and leaving 22 dead.

In all, The wildfires burning across Washington State, Oregon and California have left haze that has reached as far as New York City.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.  

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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