DNR firefighters battling wildfires in southern states

LANSING, MI — Amid drought conditions in the south, eight Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters currently are helping to contain wildfires in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. Four, two-man crews on four engines have been dispatched.

“We’re proud that our highly trained staff is able to assist other states and agencies during emergency conditions,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division. “In addition to bringing their skills to other areas, our folks are able to bring what they learn on the fire-line back to Michigan.”

The DNR will continue to provide assistance to the southern fire efforts while fire conditions remain critical.

All costs associated with the support provided during out-of-state assignments are fully reimbursed to the DNR.

O’Neill stressed that while some employees were sent to assist southern efforts, the state is well-equipped to handle incidents should they occur in Michigan.

“While this isn’t a typical time of year for wildfires, they have occurred,” he said. “It’s important that we have staff here at home who can help protect our natural resources.”

Because of Michigan’s national cooperative agreement, the DNR received fire-suppression assistance from other states, federal agencies and the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact during two critical incidents in recent years. This occurred in 2007 on the 18,000-acre Sleeper Lake fire and in 2012 on the 21,000-acre Duck Lake fire.