20 Massachusetts firefighters helping battle northwest wildfires - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

20 Massachusetts firefighters helping battle northwest wildfires

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The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation has sent a crew of 20 wildland firefighters to help battle fires that have burned about 900,000 acres in Oregon and Washington in the last two weeks.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Northeastern Interagency Coordination Center had requested the assistance.

Several Western Mass. firefighters are among those who are on this assignment. They are DCR firefighters Jesse Hanecak of Whately, Keith Robbins of Westhampton, Eric Rogers of Holyoke, Gregory Whittier of Deerfield, and municipal firefighter Jeffrey Belanger of Deerfield.

All of the firefighters have been federally certified for the work and have passed a 40-hour wildland firefighting class.

On this assignment, the firefighters have been assigned to the Chiwaukum Complex just outside of Leavenworth, Washington, involving three fires totaling 12,320 acres.

The crew will work on the fire line up to 14 days, engaging in direct fire suppression, which includes building fire breaks, securing fire perimeters, containing fires, and protecting structures.

The Massachusetts firefighters are also being joined by crews from New Hampshire and New York.

They departed from Manchester Airport on Saturday morning.

This is not the first time Massachusetts firefighters have aided in battling wildfires in other parts of the country. Last year, a 20-person crew was sent to Missoula, MT, to help contain several lightning-caused fires.

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