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More than 3,000 respond after Washington requests firefighting volunteers

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OMAK, Wash. (AP) — Washington officials say more than 3,000 people called and emailed in response to the state’s request for volunteer help with wildfires.

The bad fire season has been severely straining resources.

The Department of Natural Resources on Friday opened centers in Omak and Colville to coordinate offers of help from trained, qualified volunteer firefighters and from people who have and can operate machinery like backhoes and bulldozers to dig fire lines.

DNR spokesman Joe Smillie says the centers are sorting through the names to see what people have to offer. He says most are probably not qualified to help right now, but about 200 equipment operators are expected to get training in deploying emergency fire shelters and other basics on Saturday.

Deployment to a wildfire will depend on the availability of professional firefighting staff to escort and direct the volunteers.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources issued the following statement:

Volunteer to Fight Wildfires

Thank you for being willing to help. DNR has set up temporary community resource coordination centers in Omak, Colville, and Castle Rock for those wishing to commit time or equipment to fighting the current storm of wildfires.
At this time, we are only seeking and able to coordinate services from those with wildland firefighting qualifications, including an Incident Qualification Card (commonly called a Red Card), a “Blue Card,” or a letter of certification from a local or rural firefighting agency stating that you have met appropriate physical fitness, experience and training standards for serving on wildfire incidents.

Inquire online

Please complete our online intake form by listing your qualifications and contact information to volunteer with our temporary community resource coordination centers in Colville, Omak and Castle Rock.
Centers are being established in three strategic locations:
Omak:  Jay Guthrie
Omak City Hall
2 Ash St. N
Email: CRC.Omak@gmail.com
Colville:  Julie Sacket
Washington State Department of Transportation
Second Floor
440 N Hwy 395
Email: CRC.Colville@gmail.com
Castle Rock: Kellie Williams
DNR Pacific Cascade Region Office
601 Bond Rd.
Email: CRC.CastleRock@gmail.com

How can you help?

  • Volunteer with your local fire department
  • Become a DNR firefighter – recruitment for regular positions begin each January
  • Veterans may also consider an unaffiliated organization, Team Rubicon, which organizes veterans for disaster response.
  • If you do not have wildland fire training or certification, please work through the local service organizations that are providing valuable assistance to communities and those serving on the fire and behind the lines. Find information about volunteering at Washington Wildfire Resources.

– See more at: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/WildfireVolunteer#sthash.lsiuAvl5.dpuf