Delaware Wildfire Crew Battles Blazes In The West

PHOTO: From left, Dave Pro of Newark, Jeff Wilson of Clayton, Eddie Boyer of Frederica, and Bradley Melson of Milford are part of the Delaware wildfire crew battling the Harris Mountain Fire south of Cascade, Montana.

 

CASCADE, Mont. (August 4, 2021) — Delaware’s wildfire crew continues to battle the Harris Mountain Fire in the steep, rocky and mountainous terrain south of Cascade, Montana. The 31,345-acre blaze is currently 20 percent contained, with almost 300 personnel under a Type 2 Incident Management Team from the Northern Rockies to bring it under control

According to crew boss Sam Topper, Delaware’s 20-person Type 2IA crew has been constructing hotline on a critical piece of Division Z and has been working to keep the fire out of the head of Novak Creek. The crew has only four more shifts remaining before returning to the First State next week. The group departed Blackbird State Forest on July 21 and is serving a 14-day assignment.

Delaware also has a new Type 6 engine crew fighting the Cedar Creek Fire, currently 52,030 acres and 25% percent contained, located in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.  The team of three firefighters is led by the Delaware Forest Service’s Todd Gsell and includes Todd Shaffer of Maryland and Andy Ney of Felton.

More photos at the Delaware Forest Service Flickr page

Contact: Kyle Hoyd, Delaware Forest Service, 302-698-4548 or kyle.hoyd@delaware.gov

Dave Pro of Newark
PHOTO: Dave Pro of Newark works the chainsaw to construct a line to slow down the Harris Mountain Fire south of Cascade, Montana. The fire is currently 31,345 acres and 20 percent contained. Delaware’s Type 2IA crew has been constructing hotline on a critical piece of Division Z. The area is extremely rough with steep and rocky terrain. The crew has four more shifts including today.

 

DES Engine Crew
PHOTO: Delaware’s new Type 6 engine crew, staffed by (from left) engine boss trainee Todd Shaffer, engine boss Todd Gsell, and firefighter Andy Ney, is holding the line, patrolling, and mopping up on the Cedar Creek Fire near Winthrop, Washington. The fire is currently 52,030 acres and 25 percent contained.

 


Delaware Crew Fighting Montana Wildfire

CASCADE, Mont. (July 27, 2021) — Delaware’s “Diamond State” Type 2IA crew is part of more than 200 personnel fighting the Harris Mountain Fire in Cascade County, Montana. Located in difficult and rugged terrain, the blaze was started by lightning on July 23 and is currently 19,103 acres in size. Managed by a Type 2 Incident Management Team (IMT), the fire is expanding in all directions and burning actively in deep drainages. Multiple crews, engines, dozers, water tenders and air resources are providing structure protection.

The team from the First State is led by the Delaware Forest Service’s Sam Topper and consists of 20 volunteer firefighters from the public and private sector. The group departed Blackbird State Forest on July 21 and will serve a 14-day assignment before returning to Delaware.

Delaware also has a Type 6 engine crew fighting the Cedar Creek Fire, currently 33,462 acres in size and 13 percent contained, located in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.  The team of three firefighters, led by the Delaware Forest Service’s Erich Burkentine, is in the midst of a 21-day assignment. The engine previously served on Southern California’s Dexter Fire.

Delaware wildfire crew Montana
From left, Bradley Melson of Milford, Eddie Boyer of Frederica, and Jim Charney of Felton are part of the Delaware wildfire crew battling the Harris Mountain Fire south of Cascade, Montana. The 19,103-acre blaze was started by lightning on July 23.

 

Harris Mountain Fire
An aircraft drops retardant to slow the growth of the Harris Mountain Fire near Cascade, Montana.

 

Cedar Creek Washington
Delaware’s Type 6 engine crew is battling the Cedar Creek Fire in Washington State. The blaze is currently 33,462 acres with 13% containment. (photo by Nikki Testa)

 

Delaware Type 6 engine Washington
Delaware’s Type 6 engine crew, consisting of Erich Burkentine, Nikki Testa, and Hunter Melson, is fighting the Cedar Creek Fire in Washington State. (photo by Nikki Testa)


Forest Service Awards $40,000 to Fire Companies

PHOTO: From left, Indian River Fire Prevention Co-Chairs Robert Marmor and Roxanne Bammer, are joined by Chief Hayden Klingler, as they receive a $4,500 ceremonial check from the Delaware Forest Service’s Sam Topper for its 2021 volunteer fire assistance grant.

DOVER, Del. (July 23, 2021) — 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 volunteer fire companies are literally the first responders to every type of emergency in their communities, including wildfires. That’s why we are proud to partner with them to provide grant funding to purchase equipment and resources to help protect lives and keep properties safer,” said Kyle Hoyd, assistant state forester and director of Delaware’s wildland fire program.

VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY GRANT COUNTY
Delaware City Fire Co. $4,500.00 New Castle
Hockessin Fire Company $2,112.51 New Castle
Volunteer Hose Co. of Middletown $410.67 New Castle
Goodwill Fire Company $252.99 New Castle
Camden-Wyoming Fire Department $4,257.00 Kent
Robbins Hose Company #1 $4,149.05 Kent
Marydel Fire Company $3,409.68 Kent
Blades Volunteer Fire Company $4,500.00 Sussex
Delmar Fire Department $4,500.00 Sussex
Indian River Volunteer Fire Company $4,500.00 Sussex
Ellendale Volunteer Fire Company $2,461.00 Sussex
Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department $2,205.90 Sussex
Milton Volunteer Fire Department $2,112.51 Sussex
Laurel Fire Department $749.97 Sussex
Total $40,121.28

 

Dover Fire VFA
From left, Dover Fire Chief David Carey, Firefighter Michael Morris, and Assistant Chief Sierra Brown accept a ceremonial check from the Delaware Forest Service’s volunteer fire grant assistance program.

Delmar VFA grant
From left: Delmar Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joe Morris and President Andrew Rementer accept a ceremonial $4,500 check from the Delaware Forest Service’s John Petersen as part of its 2021 volunteer fire assistance grant program.

 

Blades VFA grant
From left, Blades Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jason Hudson, Assistant Chief Jason Tharp, President Ray Hastings, Capt. Lance Fleetwood, Assistant Chief Trey Jewell, Lt. Ernie Melson, and Chief Engineer Earl Chaffinch, Jr. receive a ceremonial $4,500 check for its 2021 VFA grant from the Delaware Forest Service’s John Petersen.


Delaware Wildfire Crew Heads to Northern Rockies

Delaware wildfire crew
FRONT ROW: From left, Jeff Wilson of Clayton, Adam Keever of Newark, Scott Veasey of Millsboro, Jim Charney of Felton, Bart Wilson of Wilmington, and Sam Topper of Maryland. BACK ROW: From left, Ben Schnatterly of Dover, Richard Brown of Rehoboth Beach, Tyler Thompson of Smyrna, Max Huhn of Wilmington, Zach Brown of Millsboro, Dylan Steinberg of Middletown, Nate Ziemecki of Philadelphia, Thomas Hairgrove of Townsend, Bradley Melson of Milford, Evan Stockley of Newark, Dave Pro of Newark, Bill Seybold of Dover, Eddie Boyer of Ellendale, and Mark Lasocha of Dover.

 

SMYRNA, Del. (July 21, 2021) — 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.

The National Interagency Fire Center raised its National Fire Preparedness Level to 5—its highest level—due to a large increase in wildfire activity fueled by prolonged heat and drought across the West. The Northern Rockies geographic area (which includes Idaho and Montana) is the most active region and also at PL 5. More than 4,250 personnel are currently assigned to fight fires in the Northern Rockies region. There were 102 aircraft, 88 fire crews, and 377 engines, and a total of 3,980 personnel as of 7/21.

After four days of travel, the crew will complete a planned 14-day assignment before returning to the First State.

 


Delaware Engine Crew on California’s Dexter Fire

BISHOP, Calif. (July 16, 2021) — 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. A total of 308 personnel are currently working under the command of a Type 2 incident management team (IMT) and the Dexter Fire has forced the evacuation of Big Springs and Bald Mountain Springs Campgrounds as well as the closure of area roads and highways.

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, replacing a crew composed of Sam Topper, Adam Keever, and Bradley Melson that completed a 14-day tour of duty that took them from Colorado to California. 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.

An increasing number of large wildfires in the western United States—combined with a prolonged heat wave and persistent drought—led the National Interagency Fire Center to increase its National Preparedness Level to the maximum level of “5” on July 14. Currently, 70 active large fires have consumed 1,061,516 acres across the United States. More than 17,700 wildland firefighters and support personnel and 32 Type 1 and Type 2 incident management teams are assigned to wildfires. So far in 2021, a total of 34,596 fires have burned 2.36 million acres—an increase from the same time in 2020, when 28,423 fires had burned 1.78 million acres.

Nikki Testa of Newark
Nikki Testa of Newark is an engine boss trainee on the Delaware Type 6 engine battling the 2,000-acre Dexter Fire in California’s Inyo National Forest.

 

Dexter Fire
Destruction caused by the Dexter Fire in southern California’s Inyo National Forest. Firefighters are facing high temperatures, low humidity, and gusty winds.

 

Engine boss Erich Burkentine
The Delaware Forest Service’s Erich Burkentine felled this large tree as part of suppression efforts on the Dexter Fire, a 2,000-acre blaze burning in the Inyo National Forest in southern California. Delaware’s Type 6 engine is currently on a 21-day assignment in the region.

 

Erich Burkentine and Hunter Melson
From left, engine boss Erich Burkentine of Milton and firefighter Hunter Melson of Milford are serving on Delaware’s Type 6 engine battling the Dexter Fire in California’s Inyo National Forest.

More photos at the Delaware Forest Service Facebook Page

Contact:

Kyle Hoyd, Delaware Forest Service
Email: kyle.hoyd@delaware.gov
302-698-4548