On Friday the call went out across the state that Pennsylvania needed to provide the manpower for two, 20-person crews. This forest district was able to provide six employees and one volunteer for the mobilization effort. They assembled in Harrisburg that evening and departed on a flight to Alaska on Saturday morning, said Wynick.
He said they were a part of eight crews called up from the northeast to respond to the Stuart Creek 2 Fire, which is east of Fairbanks in central Alaska. He said the other eastern states that provided crews are: Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Maine and Vermont.
According to him, this is the first time that eastern firefighting crews have been called to the largest and most remote state. Wynick said their assignment will put them on the fire line for up to 14 days, before they travel back home to Pennsylvania.
Information on the Stuart Creek 2 Fire can be found at the following Web site: http://www.inciweb.org/. This is a site with information on all of the current wildfires occurring in the country.
Firefighters from Pennsylvania have been traveling to out-of-state fire assignments since 1971. They have established a reputation for being well trained and capable of completing their assignments, said Wynick. Over this timeframe, a number of individuals have been able, through their training and experience, to qualify for nationally recognized advanced positions in the wildfire community. This has allowed Pennsylvania to provide personnel every year since 1971 to assist with the suppression of wildfires throughout the west and in a number of states east of the Mississippi River as well, added Wynick.