Oklahoma Firefighters Help Battle Major Wildfires In Western US

Monday, July 26th 2021, 6:18 pm
By: Meredith McCown

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma firefighters are helping battle the huge wildfires in the western part of the United States - and another crew is on standby to leave soon. 

Oklahoma Forestry Services Director Mark Goeller said 24 people and four engines from 14 counties are currently helping in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

"Whenever something like this is going on, we go help because we know that at some point, they'll be here to help us," Goeller said.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, so far, large fires have burned at least 1.5 million acres across 13 states. The country is at the highest level of wildfire activity, meaning large fires are spread throughout several geographic areas.

More than 22,000 firefighters and incident management teams are helping.

"There's an exceptional drought in Washington, Idaho and Montana. Those are the three areas of the country that are the worst," Goeller said.

Goeller said they've been sending firefighters since mid-June. Crews deploy for a little over two weeks at a time, then they come home. 

"We're not having issues here in Oklahoma this time of year because of how much rain we've received and how green it is across most of the state. And so that allows us to be able to help others in their time of need," Goeller said.

He said this also gives crews get the chance to learn different tactics and practice with different types of equipment.

"The big benefit is that we are getting to practice our skills in another state in some of the worst conditions possible. So that when things are bad here, we have those skill sets developed to better assist and better serve Oklahomans in our time of need," Goeller said.

Two firefighters from the Osage Nation Wildland Fire Management are also helping in Montana. They've been there for a week and will be there for two more.