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home : current news : current news July 17, 2018

10/31/2017 12:51:00 PM
Sisters firefighters aid California
Three Sisters firefighters joined a strike team to assist the battle against massive California wildfires. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Three Sisters firefighters joined a strike team to assist the battle against massive California wildfires. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

When the Milli Fire reared up and roared across the landscape, forcing hundreds to evacuate their homes, firefighters from around the state of Oregon converged on Sisters to provide depth to the firefighting response.

Last month, three Sisters firefighters undertook the same sort of mission, rolling south as part of a strike team requested to aid in the response to devastating wildfires in northern California.

The call came in at 10 p.m. on October 11, requesting a strike team from Deschutes and Klamath counties. Jeremy Ast, David Ward, and Travis Bootes saddled up in one of the Sisters-Camp Sherman District's Type 3 heavy brush engines and rolled out at midnight. They returned 10 days later.

"I think they were impressed at the speed with which we deployed," Ast said of the strike team, which made it to the fire zone in 10 hours.

A strike team is comprised of all like engines - firefighters from Bend, Sunriver, and Klamath County all deployed the Type 3 engine.

While the worst of the intense firestorm that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and took dozens of lives in Northern California had passed, the Sisters firefighters deployed to the Santa Rosa area and patrolled evacuated subdivisions and installed hose line to reinforce fire lines.

Firefighter David Ward said they "witnessed some of the most grateful people ever - incredibly generous."

Many of those people had lost everything in the fires.

"People lost houses and they were so hospitable," he said.

Ward said he was impressed at how efficiently the massive interagency effort involving thousands of emergency personnel worked.

"I felt like everybody kind of meshed together and was efficient in their tasks," he said.

"We were there to fill the same role that we ask others to fill," Ast noted.

That kind of reciprocity is increasingly important in the face of more and more massive, intense and catastrophic fires.

"I think we're going to see more reciprocation," he said. "We already have... I think there's going to be more opportunities to work together."

The firefighters particularly noted that they appreciated the opportunity to work closely with colleagues from Bend and Sunriver.

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