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Pa. fire crews called-up to help battle Alaska wildfires

Written by David Payne/Radio Pennsylvania | Jun 23, 2015 3:37 AM
alaska_wildfire.jpg

Photo by Sgt. Balinda O'Neal/U.S. Army National Guard via AP

In this June 17,photo from the Alaska Army National Guard, trees erupt in flames in the Stetson Creek Fire near Cooper Landing, Alaska. Crews have wrangled two large wildfires north and south of Anchorage as dozens of blazes burn over 100 square miles in Alaska. One fire forced the evacuation of campsites on the Kenai Peninsula and destroyed at least eight structures.

(Harrisburg) -- More than three dozen firefighters from Pennsylvania are headed to Alaska to help battle wildfires.

Two crews of 20 firefighters each are taking off this morning from Harrisburg International Airport, en route to the city of Fairbanks where they will be dispatched to different fire zones.

Terry Brady of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, says this is the first call-up for Pennsylvania firefighters of the 2015 fire season.

"We have a ready pool of volunteers, both our Bureau of Forestry workers and super folks with the township volunteer fire companies across the state who also are well-trained to battle wildfires," he says.

Brady says conditions in Alaska will no be like those in the Western states.

"It's a different ballgame, in terms of equipment they are told to bring," he says. "They're told to bring heavy, warm clothing and also weather gear."

But with wildflires continuing in Alaska along with at least three states in the lower 48, Brady says he's expecting the firefighters called up from Pennsylvania to eventually number in the hundreds.

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