The Oregon National Guard (ONG) has been activated to assist the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) with wildfire suppression efforts following Gov. Kate Brown’s statewide wildfire emergency declaration on Wednesday.
At the request of ODF, aviation assets will be made available to wildfire crews in Oregon.
The Oregon Army National Guard will provide two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and two HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters equipped with firefighting water buckets.
Other air assets include an additional HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter to be on standby for medical evacuations and a UH-72 Lakota helicopter to assist with aerial spotting.
Other ONG assets and personnel could be activated if needed, including teams of service members to provide traffic assistance points and firefighting ground crews. Oregon National Guard ground troops have not yet been requested but are available if wildfire conditions worsen.
Two teams (each with approximately 125 Soldiers and Airmen) have already been trained and are “Red Card” certified in preparation for wildfire season with an additional 125-person team scheduled to be certified by Aug.10. The teams are comprised of Citizen-Airmen and Citizen-Soldiers from Oregon Air and Army National Guard units across the state.
The ONG has an ongoing agreement with ODF known as Operation Plan Smokey, which stipulates the details of how ONG members and assets may be utilized to assist in annual firefighting efforts. Leaders from both agencies review this agreement annually.