After spending 22 weeks in Texas, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is happy to welcome home state firefighters that have been diligently working to stem the wildfires that have burned throughout Texas.
Under an interagency agreement that all 50 states participate in, the Michigan DNR sent four tractors/plows and eight staff to Texas in mid-June. Staff rotated through every two to three weeks, with over 40 DNR staffers having spent time in Texas. The last of the crews and equipment returned home on Nov. 18.
“Fighting wildfires is dangerous, which is why we are happy to report that all of the Michigan DNR staff returned unharmed,” says Scott Heather, section manager for the Resource Protection & Cooperative Programs of the Michigan DNR. “Additionally, the State of Texas will reimburse the department for all of the costs associated with having the staff and equipment down there for 22 weeks.”
Firefighters from 43 states fought more than 29,000 blazes across almost 4 million acres of land since wildfire season began on Nov. 15, 2010. Michigan firefighters battled two of the largest fires – the Bastrop County Complex and the 101 Ranch, saving many homes.
“The unprecedented wildfires in Texas this year were just another example of why these types of interagency agreements are so important,” says Heather. “Due to the favorable weather in Michigan this summer and fall, the threat of wildfires was low, allowing us to lend our services and equipment to Texas for an extended period of time.”
This was the longest period of time that Michigan has lent staff and equipment to another state for the purpose of fighting fires. Michigan has a long history of providing equipment and staff to other states and has also benefited greatly from the interagency agreement. Most recently in 2007 during the Sleeper Lake fires in Luce County, over 230 firefighters from around the Midwest battled the 18,500 acre fire.