One hundred federal firefighters boarded aircraft in Redding Tuesday, bound for Alaska and northern Canada where massive blazes are under way.
Despite the temporary redeployment, officials said they’re prepared for fire season here in California.
The firefighters—sixty with the U.S. Forest Service and 40 with the Bureau of Land Management—departed from Redding to battle blazes in western Canada and Alaska.
Stanton Florea, Fire Information Officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said the assignment is fairly typical and that firefighters are sent wherever needed, regardless of where they are based.
“They’ve got several large lightning caused fires that have started up there,” Florea said. “So, that’s what our hotshot crews and other firefighting resources would be working on.”
Some of those fires exceed 200,000 acres.
There are some contrasts with firefighting in the lower 48. Difficulty evacuating isolated settlements means firefighters are sent in to protect an area surrounded by flame. In the far north, some areas are too fragile for heavy equipment, so fire is fought by hand.
Florea said the missions typically last a month and provide opportunities for training and experience.