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Active Fire Seasons Puts A Strain On Northwest Fire Resources

Dennis Lee

This summer's active wildfire season is stretching fire crews to the limit. This week, virtually every available wildland firefighter in the Northwest is on the scene of a blaze.

Fighting wildfires requires a lot of specialized equipment - and specially trained firefighters. Deborah Miley, director of the National Wildfire Suppression Association, said virtually all of the private fire crews she represents in the Northwest are out on a fire line right now.

She said the agencies who coordinate their use have some out-of-the-area back-up they can call, but that option is used judiciously.

"They're definitely going to look at what resources they have in particular regions where the fire danger at any given time might not be as great and make sure they try to utilize those as best they can, because they certainly don't want to leave somebody unprotected,” Miley said.

The largest fires require more than a dozen crews to tackle the blaze at any given time. A standard crew size is 20 people. More than 40 crews are deployed at the massive Beaver Complex Fire in southern Oregon.