TRAIL, Ore. – As more than a dozen major wildfires burn across California and Oregon, Hoosiers are packing up to give a helping hand.
In the past few weeks, Indiana crews from the Department of Natural Resources, The Hoosier National Forest, The Nature Conservancy and other agencies have all traveled to affected states to help tame the wildfires.
Tens of thousands of people in California and Oregon have been evacuated from their homes. More than 14,000 firefighters from across the country have been called upon to battle the wildfires in California. A combination of two fires in The Golden State has now grown to become the largest in state history.
Flames are also raging across Oregon where a team of 20 Hoosiers just arrived back in Indiana after a two week stint.
“At first they’re always surprised that ‘hey how is Indiana coming all the way out here?’ but once we show them that we can work hard, and we have similar skillsets that they do and we can accomplish those goals it’s always a good thing,” Michael Spalding with the DNR said.
Spalding described the work as being “hard,” and sometimes “chaotic.” He says its grueling work, but as Spalding puts it, it’s what they “signed up for.”
“We know when we volunteer, because we did volunteer to do this, that we just wait for that call and when that call goes through we need to be ready to volunteer wherever that help is needed,” he said.
Other Hoosiers like Danielle King with the Hoosier National Forest joined crews in Idaho with the National Interagency Coordination Center to help gather and deliver intel on all of the fires raging across the U.S.
“Everyone is trying to find resources that these fires really need trying to find ways to help out,” King said. “It was constantly moving there was always something new coming up.”
King added that traveling with a team of Hoosiers to help those across the country became a bonding experience. One that she said she would gladly do again.
“It doesn’t matter what state it’s in we all have, like I said before, the same goal in mind. And whatever job they need me to do, they can send me wherever they need to send me and I will be more than happy to help out,” she said.