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Minnesota Guard joins Washington firefighting efforts

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday activated the Minnesota National Guard to help combat wildfires raging in Washington state. In an executive order, Dayton is sending two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, along with the necessary person...

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday activated the Minnesota National Guard to help combat wildfires raging in Washington state.

In an executive order, Dayton is sending two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, along with the necessary personnel and equipment, to Washington for up to 15 days. A Department of Natural Resources helicopter operations manager will join the Guard on the mission.

The order stems from the Emergency Management Assistance Compact - an interstate mutual aid compact - that Minnesota joined in 2014. The compact simplifies the process for states to send personnel and equipment to help disaster relief efforts in other states. States requesting assistance are responsible for reimbursing all out-of-state costs and are liable for out-of-state personnel.

The state of Washington requested assistance from other states through the compact; it currently has 15 different active wildfires covering more than 230,000 acres, and has exhausted its firefighting resources.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now has 30 staff members assigned to fires in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, officials said Friday.

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"Other states have provided significant support to us here in Wisconsin, notably during the Germann Road fire in 2013, and this shared approach helps all agencies make efficient use of resources," said Trent Marty, DNR forest protection bureau director.

Wisconsin supplies firefighting resources nationally through a wildland fire suppression agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. The agreement provides for full reimbursement of all assistance provided by Wisconsin, including personnel, travel and equipment costs.

Forum News Service and the Wisconsin State Journal contributed to this report.

Related Topics: FIRES
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