Oregon National Guard members are helping with the Double Creek Fire by providing staffing to road closure points around the fire's perimeter. The Double Creek Fire in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Northeast, Oregon, at 157,000 acres it is considered a Megafire by the U.S. Forest Service. Currently, the Oregon Forestry Department says they have the fire 81% contained that started by a lightning strike.
The Oregon National Guard has been at the fire since September 10, and recently switched out some personnel with fresh service members to provide safety and security. The roadblocks serve to protect area residents and wildland firefighters.
Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Decker, who's volunteered since the Rum Creek Fire in Josephine County, said, "The National Guard is the last resource called in to come in and help – so we come in, we help with these TAPs (Traffic Assistance Points), where we're out there trying to keep everybody safe."
Wallowa County is a very rural area that draws many to its natural beauty and outdoor activities.
“It’s that time of the season, and you know they want to do their hunt, and they got their tags, and they want to fill them,” said Decker. "We understand that, but it's not safe for them, and it's not safe for the fire crews either."
Oregon National Guard Maj. Joshua Reese, the officer in charge of the National Guard group, is an IT specialist that works at the Salem Hospital for his civilian job, said, "As a Citizen-Soldier, it's an honor to serve my fellow Oregonians and help keep people safe,” commenting on his fellow members supporting fire operations. "I'm really proud of our group, some of these soldiers and airmen have been on State Active Duty [orders] for over 28 days, working these closure points."
The Oregon National Guard has a history of helping fight wildland fires, like their motto, "Always Ready, Always There." The guard has several firefighting crews trained to fight fires that are ready if called on to support strained civilian firefighting crews. In addition, Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are volunteers that typically serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year. The National Guard is the primary military organization that also serves the communities where they live.
Source: Oregon National Guard