SALEM, Oregon – The Oregon National Guard (ONG) has been activated to assist the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) with wildfire suppression efforts following Governor Kate Brown’s statewide wildfire emergency declaration on July 18, 2018.
At the request of ODF, aviation assets will be made available to wildfire crews in Oregon. The Oregon Army National Guard will provide two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and two HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters equipped with Bambi water buckets. Other air assets include an additional HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter to be on standby for medical evacuations and a UH-72 Lakota helicopter to assist with aerial spotting.
Other ONG assets and personnel could be activated if needed, including teams of service members to provide traffic assistance points and firefighting ground crews. Oregon National Guard ground troops have not yet been requested but are available if wildfire conditions worsen.
Two teams (each with approximately 125 Soldiers and Airmen) have already been trained and are “Red Card” certified in preparation for wildfire season with an additional 125-person team scheduled to be certified by August 10. The teams are comprised of Citizen-Airmen and Citizen-Soldiers from Oregon Air and Army National Guard units across the state.
The ONG has an ongoing agreement with ODF known as Operation Plan Smokey, which stipulates the details of how ONG members and assets may be utilized to assist in annual firefighting efforts. This agreement is reviewed annually by leadership of both agencies.
PHOTO CAPTION: Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment, land a CH-47 Chinook helicopter equipped with a 2,000-gallon capacity Bambi Bucket at Davis helibase near Gates, Oregon, in support of firefighting efforts at the Whitewater Fire in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area, August 7, 2017. The Oregon National Guard has been activated to assist the Oregon Department of Forestry with wildfire suppression efforts again this year following Governor Kate Brown’s emergency declaration. (Oregon Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Anita VanderMolen, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)