Fire crews return after battling blazes in the South

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources sent more than a dozen firefighters to battle wildfires this fall in the Southern United States. Crews and three fire engines just returned after serving in Georgia and North Carolina. Answering the call to service were 10 firefighters from the Maryland Forest Service, one from the Maryland Park Service, one firefighter from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and two volunteers.

“Our trained and professional wildland firefighters and equipment are dispatched when other agencies need assistance, and there are no local resources available,” said State Fire Supervisor Monte Mitchell. “By participating in this program, our fire personnel meet an immediate national need, saving lives, property and natural resources, and at the same time gain valuable experience and skills that are used to help suppress wildfires right here in Maryland.”

Beginning Oct. 25, Engine 254 from Church Creek Fire Center in Dorchester County was dispatched to fight fires in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia. A second crew relieved the first team Nov. 13, and remained there until Dec. 3.

Engine 854 from Green Ridge Fire Center in Allegany County was dispatched Nov. 3 to fight the Boteler fire near Hayesville, NC. The firefighters completed their 21-day assignment and returned Nov. 27. Engine 255 from Church Creek Fire Center was dispatched Nov. 9 to the Maple Springs fire near Santeetlah Lake, NC, and after completing that assignment Nov. 23, the crew went to fight the Rock Mountain fire at Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia. They returned Nov. 30.

Maryland has cooperative agreements with other states and the U.S. Forest Service to assist fighting wildfires nationwide. Maryland has participated in mobilizing wildland firefighters for dispatch since 1974.

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