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South Dakota firefighters head west to help with west coast fires

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 9:06 AM CDT
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. - Wildfires continue to rage across the western United States, in states like Montana, California, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada.

Now, some of South Dakota’s bravest are lending a helping hand.

“This year we are in a preparedness level 5, which means a lot of resources are hard to come by, and they are getting depleted,” said Tye Odden, Fort Pierre Fire Department Assistant Chief.

The Fort Pierre Fire Department sent three men, along with a type six engine, which Odden says is currently in high demand because of its versatility. Odden said that after formally volunteering the engine, it only took thirty minutes for it to be dispatched to a fire.

The Fort Pierre delegation is not the only group of firefighters heading west to help with the relief efforts. The South Dakota Wildland Fire Division also sent an engine, along with five firefighters of their own.

The Fort Pierre firefighters will spend at least four days of an eighteen-day rotation fighting fires in Washington, about forty miles north of Spokane. The state’s wildland fire division will spend the majority of its time in Idaho.

“Whenever we have incidences back in Fort Pierre, our mutual aid areas are very good about helping us to fight our fires,” said Odden. “Our thought process is if we can give back even just a little to help somebody, that is what we are wanting to do.”