Local emergency response crews traveling to Oregon to fight wildfires

Four Fargo firefighters left Sept. 14 for Oregon. From Oregon, one Fargo firefigther provided an update on how the North Dakota Task Force was contributing to saving people and structures. Photo courtesy of Fargo Fire Department

FARGO — Emergency response crews from across the state will travel this week to support the wildland fire fight after Governor Doug Burgum approved an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request from Oregon Monday, Sept. 14.

According to a press release from North Dakota's governor's office, this emergency response mechanism allows North Dakota to send a total 12 firefighters and one task force leader from the Williston, Grand Forks,and Fargo fire departments.

In fact, four Fargo firefighters departed this afternoon on a reserve fire engine to meet up with other two firetrucks and two support vehicles, including a command trailer in Bismarck. The governor's office said North Dakota task force is led by Jason Catrambone of the Williston Fire Department, and further instructions will be issued additional equipment through the North Dakota Forest Service.

These firefighters are trained in urban firefighting and will be assigned to a base camp in Oregon where they will operate their equipment to protect structures from advancing wildfires. Currently, there are 38 active wildfires threatening several communities in western Oregon.

North Dakota’s volunteer task force was assembled after sourcing and coordination through the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (DES). North Dakota has a long history of providing EMAC support to other states. Since 2005, DES staff have supported response agencies through EMAC during disaster events in six locations, including: Louisiana (2005 hurricane), Mississippi (2011 flooding), Puerto Rico (2017 hurricane), Florida (2017 hurricane), Hawaii (2018 volcano) and, most recently, in Oklahoma (2019 flooding/tornadoes).


“We extend our appreciation to the local agencies that were able to make this response possible. This volunteer effort from Grand Forks, Fargo and Williston will provide much-needed support to the wildfire response effort in Oregon,” said Cody Schulz, North Dakota Homeland Security director. “North Dakota, too, has been the recipient of EMAC support during disaster events, such as floods. We are happy to reciprocate and help our neighbors when given the opportunity.”

The anticipated assignment for the North Dakota task force will be to provide structural fire protection in affected municipalities. The request for help was made by the state of Oregon through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and the North Dakota Forest Service provided coordination to assemble the task force.

In addition to the Fargo firefighters, two West Fargo residents — Paul and Barb Henke — are deploying to respond to the wildfires with the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) for a two-week assignment.

So far, 16 Red Cross disaster workers and four Emergency Response Vehicles have deployed from the Minnesota-Dakotas Region to the western wildfires. Additionally, more than four dozen volunteers continue to support relief efforts following Hurricane Laura, the Iowa Derecho, and large-scale fire responses in Minnesota and North Dakota.

North Dakota firefighters and Red Cross volunteers are expected to participate in the Oregon wildfire response for two weeks and will return Oct. 1.

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