WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today outlined the U.S. Forest Service’s assets and responses to a recent outbreak of extreme wildfires over large parts of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. The fires, affecting forests and grasslands, are burning across Western Montana, Idaho, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington.
“Our courageous USFS firefighters do an outstanding job and are able to catch 98 percent of all fires before they become large fires,” Perdue said. “To help them, we will make sure firefighters have all the necessary tools at their disposal in order to save lives, property, and our forests. We will also work hand-in-hand with our federal partners, particularly the Department of Interior, during this aggressive fire season.”
Many different types of equipment and firefighting resources are available to fire managers. As of August 21, 2017, the resources available for wildland fire suppression included:
- 18,300 total personnel, across all jurisdictions, assigned to fires.
- 412 crews, 833 engines, and 146 helicopters across all jurisdictions assigned to fires nationally.
- 27 air tankers assigned to fires nationally.
- Five military aircraft (three MAFFS and two RC-26s) supporting wildland fire operations.
- Ten Type 1 Incident Management Teams assigned.
- 22 Type 2 Incident Management Teams assigned.
- The National Preparedness Level raised to 5, the highest level, on August 10.
Wildland firefighting is a partnership among federal agencies, state agencies, and local fire departments, with the U.S. Forest Service taking on an important leadership and coordination role. Federal resources are provided for fires across the country, whether fires are on federal, state, tribal, or private lands. So far this season, firefighting agencies have responded to about 42,809 fires across about 6.4 million acres. The Forest Service, in partnership with state and local agencies, will continue to vigorously respond to wildfires with an array of assets. The National Interagency Fire Center is constantly reviewing fire conditions in order to position available resources to ensure the fastest response possible.
Perdue has announced that long-time Forest Service employee Tony Tooke will become the new Chief of the agency on September 1, 2017. Tooke replaces Tom Tidwell, whose time as Forest Service Chief capped a 40-year career with the agency. The selection of Tooke will ensure that there is continuity of leadership as the Forest Service continues its vital mission.
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