Michigan Firefighters Battle Texas Wildfires
Michigan Department of Natural Resources send equipment and crews to Texas
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has sent firefighters and equipment to Texas to assist in battling the extensive wildfires throughout the state.
Under an interagency agreement that all 50 states participate in, the Michigan DNR sent four tractor/plows and eight staff to Texas in mid-June, and has been providing fresh crews for this equipment every 14-21 days since that time. A total of 40 DNR staff have been, or are currently, in Texas helping with their wildfires. The latest replacement crews travelled to Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
“Once the fires are over and our equipment and staff come home, the state of Texas will reimburse the department for our costs in providing these people and equipment,” said Lynne Boyd, chief of the DNR Forest Management Division. “Having our staff down there not only assists Texas, but it also provides valuable training for our employees.”
Jeff Vasher, a forest fire officer with the Michigan DNR, spent three weeks in Texas battling two of the largest fires in Texas history – the 101 Ranch Fire and the Bastrop Complex Fire. He was involved in efforts that saved many homes. What he remembers most though from his time down there wasn’t saving the homes, it was the people.
“People were constantly coming up to us and thanking us for our work, even after they had just lost everything to the fires,” said Vasher. “We saved a lot of houses, but the devastation was just unimaginable. The spirit of the Texas people continued to shine. They even took the time to honor us at halftime of the Mineral Wells High School football game.”
Michigan has a long history of providing equipment and staff to other states as they battle fires. As a state, Michigan has also benefited greatly from this interagency agreement. Most recently in 2007, during the Sleeper Lake Fire in Luce County, over 230 firefighters from around the state and the Midwest battled the 18,500 acre fire.
“This agreement allows for a quick and relatively flawless response when a state is in need,” said Boyd. “Our first priority is to ensure that Michigan has both the staff and resources to fight fires here. Once we know what we need to meet our needs here at home, we can offer up our services to other states.”
The Michigan firefighters and equipment are expected to continue to help in Texas until the fires are under control.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.