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Utah firefighters head to Oregon to battle wildfires

Posted at 3:54 PM, Jul 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-18 20:30:32-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — As catastrophic fires consume wildland in the Pacific Northwest, crews from Utah are offering help.

Sunday morning, 41 firefighters from nine northern Utah agencies met at the Maverik Center to begin their trek to Oregon. When they arrive at their destination, they will provide needed relief to crews that have been stretched to the limit.

“The fires there are so severe right now, they are tapped out as far as resources,” said Greg Vanderwerff, a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority. “They simply can’t do it alone.”

The firefighters are being sent because of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact — an agreement between neighboring states to quickly line up resources when situations dictate.

“We have brothers and sisters out there doing the exact same thing we do here, so we are happy to go up and help,” UFA spokesman Patrick Costin said.

READ: Montana firefighter being treated at U of U hospital after being burned by wildfire

Back at home, those who aren’t traveling to Oregon will pick up extra shifts to prevent any holes in coverage.

“The guys off shift just have more on shifts, so everyone works more,” Vanderwerff said.

The fire crews expect to arrive in Oregon on Sunday evening and get to work Monday morning.

Hitting the road is a sacrifice they know will eventually be repaid.

“There might be a day where Utah needs the help and the good people of Oregon come help us. That’s what it’s really all about,” Vanderwerff said.

The deployment is expected to last 16 days.

Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted his appreciation for the firefighters Sunday: