The Delaware Forest Service is awarding more than $40,000 in matching grants to 14 volunteer fire companies to provide tools and equipment to fight wildfires throughout the First State. The VFA Grant program is open to all Delaware volunteer fire departments and can provide up to $4,500 in matching grants to acquire pumps, hoses, and equipment to respond to and suppress wildfires. Since its inception, more than $400,000 has been given to enhance wildfire response in the First State.
Delaware’s Type 2IA wildfire crew is headed to the Northern Rockies to join the national firefighting effort. The team of 20 firefighters departed Blackbird State Forest and is traveling by ground transportation to Montana for an eventual assignment in that region. This is the crew’s first assignment of 2021. Last year, Delaware sent a 20-person crew to fight blazes in Arizona and California. Delaware’s team is a mix of veterans and rookies, drawn from both public agencies and the private sector, who completed their certification by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. After four days of travel, the crew will complete a planned 14-day assignment before returning to the First State.
Delaware’s three-person Type 6 engine crew is now fighting the 2,000-acre Dexter Fire in the Inyo National Forest of southern California. Reported on July 12, the lightning-caused blaze is actively burning in brush and timber with only 13 percent containment. Leading the crew is the Delaware Forest Service’s southern regional forester and engine boss Erich Burkentine of Milton, along with engine boss trainee Nikki Testa of Newark, and firefighter Hunter Melson of Milford. The crew mobilized on July 13 and is scheduled for a 21-day assignment. Delaware’s crew is facing high temperatures, low relative humidity, and gusty afternoon winds on the Dexter Fire as they are conducting initial attack, digging fire line, and felling trees.
Delaware’s Type 6 engine and three-man crew are part of 313 personnel currently fighting the Oil Springs Fire, located 20 miles south of Rangely, Colorado. The fire was started by lightning on June 18 and has grown to 12, 613 acres with only 18 percent containment. Delaware’s crew is working on one of the fire’s priority areas, Division D, which involves the continued protection of the Dragon Trail Compressor Site. The fire is spreading moderately in a mixture of pinyon, juniper and sagebrush.
Delaware’s crew is comprised of engine boss Samual Topper of Maryland, engine boss trainee Adam Keever of Newark, and FFT2 Bradley Melson of Milford. The crew mobilized from Blackbird State Forest last week and started work on Saturday, June 26.
The Delaware Forest Service joined the Delaware Association for Environmental Education (DAEE) to observe “World Outdoor Classroom Day” by planting trees this week at Heritage Elementary in Red Clay School District and Allen Frear Elementary in Caesar Rodney School District. An outdoor learning place is “any place where meaningful experiences can be had in and with nature and the environment,” according to DAEE. “Outdoor learning places are especially beneficial to young students to develop the deep life-long appreciation for the natural world, our dependence on it, and its fragility. Outdoor learning places are often at schools but they can be at parks, churches, or even created in a backyard.” For information, go to http://daeeonline.org