California looks to NH firefighters for help with wildfires

CONCORD — As wildfires continue to rage in California, the New Hampshire Division of Forests & Lands has been asked to help by providing wildland firefighting resources to serve on a 20-person interagency crew from the northeast. The New Hampshire firefighters will join a crew called NOREAST #3, consisting of firefighters from New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York. The firefighters were expected to depart Thursday morning for Ventura County, California to assist with suppression on the Thomas fire. Currently this wildfire has grown to 271,000 acres. It started on Dec. 4 and has destroyed 770 single family homes, 19 commercial structures and hundreds of smaller structures. Currently in excess of 18,000 structures remain threatened by this fire. One firefighter from Cal Fire was killed on Dec. 14, which is being investigated. At present, the fire is only 55% contained with 50 miles of uncontrolled fire line burning primarily on the northern perimeter of the fire. Extreme fire conditions coupled with high temperatures, low relative humidity, and winds exceeding 70 miles per hour have hampered suppression efforts.

The NOREAST #3 crew is expected to serve for a period of 14 days. The firefighters will most likely be assigned to a division constructing a fire line to assist with controlling the fire as well as potentially assisting with structure protection. “We are pleased to be able to provide assistance to California through this valuable national resource sharing program,” said Steve Sherman, Chief of the New Hampshire Forest Protection Bureau.“Not only do we provide valuable assistance to those in need, these assignments also provide our firefighters with excellent opportunities to obtain beneficial training and experience associated with supporting complex fire incidents. This additional training and experience has proven to be invaluable when we have larger incidents to manage here in NH. We are extremely grateful for the dedication of our volunteer firefighters and the continued support of their families which makes this program possible. We especially appreciate their willingness to place the needs of others above their own during this holiday season,” Sherman said

The New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, Forest Protection Bureau is part of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. To learn more about the Division of Forests and Lands, visit www.nhdfl.org or call 603-271-2214.