Columbus County forester battling wildfires in Oregon

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY/AP) — Wildfires are continuing to rage in several states out West and a number of forest service firefighters are on the front lines battling the blazes.

Shane Hardee is a forester with the North Carolina Forest Service’s District 8 region which encompasses New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Duplin, Columbus and Bladen counties.

For the last 20 days, Hardee has been assigned to wildfires in Oregon. This week, he’s working at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation located in the north-central portion of the state.

When WWAY caught up with him early Tuesday on “Good Morning Carolina,” he was working a night operation.

“We have a national qualification system as well as a national ordering system,” he said.

As fire resources are needed, officials in affected areas submit orders which are then filled with available fire personnel in other parts of country.

Hardee says the fire he was assisting with on Monday covered about 120,000 acres.

“Just north and south of me right now we’re doing a burning operation, so about 12 to 15 miles of fire will be put on the ground before morning,” Hardee said.

When they’re not engaged in fire suppression or containment efforts, they’re roughing it.

“A hotel would be nice, we’re staying in the woods, some people stay in tents, some sleep in their trucks or under their trucks,” he said. “We’re used to it, its what we do.”

One good thing about where they are out West is that the humidity is not high like it typically is during late summer in the Cape Fear.

Despite extremely long days and massive natural and property devastation, Hardee says morale among his firefighting colleagues is very strong.

“I am surrounded by great people,” he said. “They’re professionals, they know how to do their job and bring a very positive attitude with them.”

Hardy plans to fly out Saturday to return home to North Carolina but he could be returning back to assist with more wildfires next Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the ongoing wildfires in the state.

Brown made the request Monday, saying it would bring much needed resources to Oregon’s response and recovery efforts.

“Oregon is strong. Oregon is resilient. But to fight fires of this scale, we need all the help we can get,” Brown said in a news release.

The request includes additional communications resources, damage assessment teams, search and rescue support, debris management, as well as shelter and medical assistance. Individual assistance for the counties and tribes was also included in the request.

A federal emergency declaration was granted for the state last week.

Categories: Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Local, New Hanover, Pender, Top Stories

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