3/5 trains to fight wildfire

3 Aug 2000 | Cpl. Matthew Shaw

Answering a call to join the fight against what has been called the West's worst wildfire outbreak in more than a decade, Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division and 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, are preparing for deployment to Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho.The Marines will be stationed five miles south of Salmon, ID, where they will combat the state's largest wildfire along with 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, U.S. Army III Corps, stationed at Ft. Hood, TX.As of Monday, the blaze -- one of 13 rampaging through Idaho -- had charred 77,000 acres. Since then, the amount of acreage the fire has consumed has risen to more than 106,000 acres acccording to the Salmon-Challis National Forest web page. So far this year, more than 60,000 wildfires have scorched 3.5 million acres across the nation. The National Interagency Firefighting Center -- citing fully committed resources and fatigued firefighters -- requested military support July 28.Members of NIFC arrived at Camp Pendleton Wednesday to train approximately 500 deploying Marines. Before their hands-on training at the fire site this weekend, Marines will attend eight hours of classroom instruction.While directly involved in fighting the fires, each crew of Marines will be guided by an experienced firefighter.The deployment could last as long as 30 days or until the fire is out.Wildfires are ravaging 10 Western states at a rate that could make this fire season worse than 1988, when 7.4 million acres burned nationwide."There were 2.2 million acres burned (nationwide) year-to-date in 1988. We're already at 3.5 million and we're just coming into fire season in most of the West," Michelle Barret, NIFC, told the Associated Press.
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