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For Release: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

DEC Deploys Second Forest Ranger to Assist in Efforts to Fight Western Wildland Fires

First Dispatched Forest Ranger Returns from Fighting Oregon's 400,000-Acre Bootleg Fire

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that a second DEC Forest Ranger has been deployed to Montana to assist in fighting western wildfires. Yesterday, New York State welcomed home Forest Ranger Timothy Carpenter at the end of his two-week assignment fighting the Bootleg Fire raging in Oregon.

DEC Commissioner Seggos said, "Our team of wildland firefighting experts are some of the best in the country. I commend them for their bravery and willingness to support ongoing efforts to contain these devastating wildfires. DEC's Forest Rangers never hesitate to lend a helping hand no matter where they're needed. I thank them for their service and courageous efforts."

Ranger Carpenter, from Steuben County, began his assignment July 10, when he joined more than 2,000 federal, state, and local fire agencies battling the Bootleg Fire in Oregon. The Bootleg Fire started on July 6 and has burned more than 400,000 acres. It is now approximately 53 percent contained. Sustained winds and low humidity make this a difficult fire to get under control. The fire has already destroyed more than 200 buildings, forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 people.

The second Forest Ranger deployed for a two-week assignment is headed to the Alder Creek Fire in Montana. The Alder Creek Fire has burned nearly 6,000 acres of land. Because of its proximity to hundreds of homes and buildings, it is now considered the nation's highest wildland firefighting priority.

Wildland fires in western states are not only devastating to the western U.S., they are also impacting New York's air quality. On July 20, the entire state of New York was under an Air Quality Health Advisory due to fine particulate matter caused by fires in Canada and the western U.S. Today, an Air Quality Health Advisory was issued for the New York City Metro region. Air Quality Health Advisories are issued when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter, are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100. Exposure to fine particulate matter can cause short-term health effects such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Exposure to elevated levels of fine particulate matter can also worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. New York State will continue to issue advisories whenever conditions warrant to help protect public health.

In 1979, New York sent its first firefighting crew to assist western states with large wildfires. On average, one or two crews have been sent as needed to assist with wildfires every year since. In addition to helping contain wildfires and minimize damage, these crews gain valuable experience that can be utilized fighting wildfires and managing all-risk incidents in New York.

All personnel and travel expenses for the New York crews are either paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to New York State based on a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies.

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