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Veteran fire crew heads to Alaska to fight fires

Fires in Alaska are burning hundreds of thousands of acres. Now the state's fire officials are asking for help from the rest of the United States. The Bureau of Land Management's Veteran Fire Crew, Medford Crew 10, is coming to the rescue.

Posted: Aug 20, 2019 11:11 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Fires in Alaska are burning hundreds of thousands of acres. Now the state's fire officials are asking for help from the rest of the United States. The Bureau of Land Management's Veteran Fire Crew, Medford Crew 10, is coming to the rescue.

This will be Medford Crew 10's second trip to Alaska this summer. Last time was a little bit more challenging since it was their first time fighting fires in the state. This time around, firefighters said they’ll know what to expect.

Medford Crew 10 just got back into the Rogue Valley Tuesday afternoon after spending days fighting the Milepost 97 Fire. In less than 24 hours, they’re headed back to Alaska.

“Fire season is in full swing now,” said firefighter Emma Anderson. “This is what we've been training to do all year."

The crew said fighting fires in Alaska is very different from firefighting in Oregon.

"The biggest thing with Alaska is the remoteness of it,” added firefighter Tobias Carleton. “We were on a plane to get there originally, then we took another plane to get a remote airport out in the middle of nowhere and then a helicopter to get dropped off even further."

“How they fight fires is a whole lot different out there. They use different techniques. We definitely had a learning curve up there,” said Squad Boss Austin Chandler.

Alaska’s McKinely Fire is more than 4,000 acres and has already destroyed about 80 buildings. The Swan Lake Fire is even bigger, burning more than 100,000 acres. Medford Crew 10 doesn’t know which fire they’ll be assigned to but they’ll know what to expect this time around.

“I think we’re going to be more comfortable with it. We were out of our element up there at first but now we’re settled in. We know what to expect,” Chandler said.

Medford Crew 10 starts their two-day long journey to Alaska Wednesday afternoon. They expect to be there for about 2 weeks.

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