Sixteen wildland firefighters from the Virginia Department of Forestry are conducting wildfire suppression efforts in Arizona, Texas, Georgia and Florida as part of a mobilization of forces to fight a large number of the wildfires in those states. Most of the VDOF resources (11 firefighters and five engines) arrived Monday in Florida to assist the Florida Division of Forestry as it fights more than 250 wildfires burning across that state.
Texas has had nearly 3 million acres burn so far this year, and approximately 1 million acres combined are burning in the other three states. “Local resources are stretched to the limit,” said VDOF Director of Resource Protection John Miller. “Virginia is a member of the Southern Area Forest Fire Compact, which helps facilitate wildfire resources across the 13 Southern states; the Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact (NJ, MD, PA, OH, DE, WV and VA), and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, ID. So, when â€˜the call’ comes in, we’re able to quickly mobilize forces and respond,” he said.
State Forester Carl Garrison said, “Virginia uses a tiered approach to providing assistance. Our first priority is to the citizens of the Commonwealth. We then support the Southern and Mid-Atlantic compacts followed by response to calls outside of those regions. This ensures our limited resources are available to protect the lives and property of our fellow Virginians and our fellow Americans. Sending some of our well-trained wildland firefighters on out-of-state missions for 14 days is a win-win for Virginia – all the costs are repaid to Virginia by the other states, and our people gain valuable experience that better prepares them to suppress wildfires here in the Commonwealth.”
In addition to the five wildfire strike teams on duty in Florida, VDOF has radio communications, geographic information systems and public information personnel out of state right now.
Miller said, “It takes a wide range of expertise to effectively fight these large wildfires.”