GLENDALE, Ore. — While the Douglas Complex may be the highest priority fire in the country, some of the country’s most elite firefighters are elsewhere. Officials are calling the Big Windy Fire one of the most complex because of its rugged terrain, which is why it’s getting what’s called a Type I incident management team.
About fifty elite firefighters from state, local, and federal agencies across the country make up the team assigned to the Big Windy Fire. Their command post is being set up at the Charles A Sprague Seed Orchard in Merlin.
In order to tackle the fire, the team is split into seven specialties: information; liaison; safety; finance; logistics; plans; and operations; that includes everything from boots on the ground to high level planning, and even communication to the public through social media and public forum. They say the steep terrain and nearby river prevent crews from being able to flank and pinch off the fire, usually the first strategy at any wildfire.
“They tried that initially for the initial attack on this and the fire behavior was just so much that they couldn’t accomplish that. So they ended up pulling back, trying it again, weren’t able to do that. And now we’re at the point where we’re looking at long range strategies for what we’re going to do,” said Type 1 Team Incident Commander Rob Allen.
Each year, firefighters have to apply to be part of a type one incident management team. Once assigned, they are no longer working for their respective organizations but work solely for the team. In this case they’ll be competing for the same limited resources as other agencies. They also say it will likely be months until that fire is even reasonably contained.