MEDFORD, Ore. -- A strike team to assist with wildfires in Southern Oregon started its time on standby at 10 a.m. July 19 at the Medford Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters. The team will stay in Southern Oregon for no more than two weeks.
Though the 11 person crew is based out of the Rogue Valley, it is here to help the entire ODF Southern Oregon Area, including the Western Lane, South Cascade and Southwest Oregon Districts, as well as the Douglas and Coos Forest Protective Associations.
Right now, resources are limited due to a large amount of incidents on the landscape. There is also potential lightning in the forecast, prepositioning this strike team ensures added capacity to the area.
The strike team is made up of five Rural Metro Fire Type-6 engines, three from Arizona, including Yuma, Tucson and Maricopa County.
The other two engines are locally based out of Grants Pass; one local Rural Metro firefighter will be joined by three additional personnel from Tennessee to staff those engines.
Natalie Weber with Oregon Department of Forestry, Southwest District said, "We have a couple personnel from Tennessee and they're really here to be an additional resource for us. We're getting to that part in the year where things are getting really dry they have been for a while and we're seeing that increased risk for fire and having resources here on the ready is going to help us so much more in the long run when it comes to initial attack."
Yuma, Arizona Fire Chief, Tim Soule is on the team and he said the team will be ready to fight any fire that may come up at any point.
"Most of us have prior experience. I fought fires in Montana, Idaho, including California, all the western states. So, I'm familiar with the fuel model."
Nationally, resources are at a level 5. This means resources are stretched thin while Southern Oregon is in extreme fire risk.
ODF says it is grateful to have the extra hands over the next several days.