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For Release: Monday, November 7, 2016

DEC Wildfire Crew Headed South to Help Battle Forest Fires

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that five members of its wildfire firefighting crew are being deployed to the South to assist in the containment of wildfires burning in Virginia and Alabama.

"The work of DEC's firefighters serves as a great example of how states can work together and share resources during times of adversity," Seggos said. "These men and women are some of the most well-trained forest firefighters in our ranks, and I wish them a safe and successful trip."

Current dry conditions prevalent in southern states has prompted the federal government to request additional fire response resources through its dispatch mobilization centers. Four DEC crew members are being mobilized as part of a 20-person crew made up of Northeastern states, National Park Service, and USDA Forest Service firefighters that will help battle a 1,200-acre wildfire in Norton, Va.

Additionally, one DEC helicopter crew member is headed to Alabama to offer support on several regional fires as prioritized by the Incident Management Team operating in Alabama.

New York first sent a firefighting crew to assist western states in fighting large wildfires in 1979, and, on average, one or two crews have been sent to assist other states each year. In addition to helping contain wildfires and minimize damage, these crews also gain valuable experience that can be utilized in fighting wildfires in New York. All personnel travel and administrative costs on these trips are paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to the state.

In August, a 20-person crew comprised of DEC Forest Rangers, employees and volunteers worked for two weeks to help contain a 180,300-acre wildfire in the Boise National Forest.

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