Locals go West to join fight against wildfires

Submitted to Dorchester Banner Tod Adams is one of the local firefighters who were dispatched last week to battle wildfires in Western states.

Submitted to Dorchester Banner
Tod Adams is one of the local firefighters who were dispatched last week to battle wildfires in Western states.

CAMBRIDGE — Eight firefighters and staff from Dorchester agencies were reported last week to have been dispatched to Western states to fight wildfires. The effort has taken on national proportions, as crews from across the country are called to help extinguish several dozen destructive blazes.

“Nationally, 101 large fires have burned nearly 1.8 million acres,” a statement from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) said on Aug. 16. “The majority of the wildland fire activity continues to burn throughout the western states. Seven large fires were contained.”

On Aug. 15, the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge released a statement saying, “Seven of Blackwater’s staff from fire, biology, and maintenance crews are helping out West.”

Other individuals from Blackwater are:

• Tod Adams: Engine captain supervising a wildland fire engine and crew from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on the Carr fire in Redding, Calif. “More than 200,000 acres have burned since its start in July, destroying more than 1,000 homes,” the statement said.

• Nate Carle: Biologist, serving as air space coordinator at Northwest Coordination Center, Ore.

• Alex Hardy – Maintenance worker at Blackwater, joined a relief crew in Texas.

• John Ashcraft: Oversees the Fire Program at Blackwater, and is division supervisor trainee at the Ferguson fire in California. This fire is in the Sierra National Forest. The NIFC reported that 96,810 acres were involved on Aug. 16.

• Emily Ellick-Flettre: Is a seasonal fire tech at Blackwater, who served at the Klondike fire in Oregon. This fire is in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The NIFC reported that 59,105 acres were involved on Aug. 16.

• Brett Gore – Fire crew at Blackwater, but stationed in New York, was situational leader on the Tenmile fire in Montana.

• Mike Durfee: Fire crew at Blackwater, but stationed in NJ, is also at the Tenmile fire in Montana. The NIFC reported 681 acres involved on Aug. 16. It is in the Kootenai National Forest.

• Mary Elliott – Works out of Blackwater as a regional fire administration officer, and is the initial attack dispatcher at Flathead National Forest, Mont.

The sacrifices of the firefighters is recognized and appreciated by their friends at the refuge. “It’s hard being away from their families,” a statement from the facility said. “And at the refuge, we miss them, too!”

The Neck District Volunteer Fire Company also contributed one of their own to the effort, as Chief 31-2 Chris Ruark was dispatched West with one of Maryland’s Wildfire Teams. “Please keep Chris in your thoughts and prayers to keep him safe and bring him home to his family,” a post on the company’s social media site said on Aug. 14. “Thank you, Chris, for your service.”

Faith Campbell and Bonnie Shertenlieb were among the many who responded with their support.

“Stay safe,” Ms. Campbell wrote. “Prayers are with you, your family and all those out there.”

“You are in our prayers, Chris,” Ms. Shertenlieb wrote. “Thank you for doing this.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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