WHITE CITY, Ore. – The red flag warning throughout the area has local fire districts preparing for lightning-caused fires. But while agencies across the area typically cooperate if a situation calls for it, some districts are staffing extra knowing that other fires are keeping crews busy.
Fire District 3 is one of the districts bring in extra people. Their area includes 167 miles of terrain, much of which rugged.
They say when they get a report of a lightning-caused fire, they’ll send out a team immediately consisting of two brush rigs, a water tender, and an engine for structural duty.
If that isn’t enough they have several options. One is to call on task forces or strike teams from other districts, determined in advance prior to fire season. The other option is to rely on the Department of Forestry, particularly when wildland expertise is needed.
But despite the fact that ODF continues to staff its station in Central Point, districts are aware that help may be spread thin.
“The later you get into a season, not only are you running into availability, but fatigue,” said District 3 Battalion Chief Mike Hussey. “The resources have been out and they’ve been pretty aggressive.”
Fire District 3 currently has one extra engine company on overtime. Firefighters not on duty can still be called in, but Hussey says response time tends to be less predictable in those cases.