Aug 18, 2015 4:05 PM by News Staff
The government will mobilize 200 active-duty soldiers to help fight the wildfires torching the West — the first time it has taken that step in nearly a decade.
The Defense Department said the soldiers would come from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington state. They will be divided into 10 crews of 20 soldiers each and sent Sunday to a wildfire to be determined.
An estimated 95 wildfires are burning across 1.1 million acres of land in seven Western states, taxing firefighters and budgets.
Before deployment, the soldiers will be trained as firefighters for one day in a classroom and two days in the field, the National Interagency Fire Center said.
Active-duty military personnel have been mobilized 35 times since 1987 to fight wildfires, the center said. The last time was in 2006, when a battalion from Lewis-McChord helped fight a fire in Washington state.
In the current wildfire outbreak, California, Washington and Oregon have also mobilized the National Guard.