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For Release: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New York Firefighting Team Heads to Montana to Fight Major Wildfire

A crew of 20 employees and volunteers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are traveling to Montana to assist in the containment of the Lolo Creek Complex wildfire, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

"New York has a long history of helping other states control wildfires and this DEC crew will provide important services to assist in this effort," Commissioner Martens said. "I commend the courage of these individuals and know that their skills and dedication will be valuable assets in fighting this major wildfire."

The team of five forest rangers and 15 other DEC employees and volunteers joined crews from other states in flying to Missoula, Montana, where they will then be transported to a fire base camp 30 miles away. The wildfire, which includes two smaller fires that are now burning together, encompasses an area of approximately 5,000 acres. The fires have damaged homes and led to some voluntary local evacuations, but no injuries have been reported to date.

There are currently 80 firefighters and support personnel assigned to the fire. The New York team is expected to be active in fighting this fire or other fires in the areas for two weeks. All personnel travel and administrative costs for the crew will be paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to the state.

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 each year. In addition, to helping contain the western wildfires and minimize damage, these crews also gain valuable experience that can be utilized in fighting wildfires in New York.

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