SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), the U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command (JFLCC), will oversee the second military wildland fire ground response in California this month.
The command will be sending approximately 250 Marines and sailors to assist in firefighting efforts in Central California, officials said.
According to the Fifth Army, headquartered in San Antonio, the military response to the West Coast fire was requested by the National Interagency Fire Center to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.
Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, the Fifth Army and JFLCC commander, said in a statement that Marines and sailors responding to the fire are prepared to support fire suppression efforts in a COVID-19 environment.
“Given the unprecedented fire season and the magnitude of the loss the people of California are experiencing, we stand ready to support the National Interagency Fire Center in their effort to help protect people, property and land in California,” Richardson said. “Just like the Soldiers supporting fire suppression efforts in Northern California, the Marines and Sailors who will assist in this mission in Central California are trained and equipped with all of the necessary gear to keep them safe, to include in a COVID-19 environment.”
Officials say the Marine unit, the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, from Camp Pendleton, California, will assist with wildland fire response efforts on the Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest.
Marines and Sailors from the unit will be fitted for personal protective equipment, including fire retardant clothing, boots, gloves and hard hats, and begin training on fire behavior and fireline safety at Camp Pendleton as early as Sept. 17, officials said in a statement.
“They are scheduled to deploy to Central California, Sept. 19, to receive hands-on training in fire suppression methods and procedures, including watch-out situations and standard firefighting orders, prior to employment in the national forest,” The Fifth Army said.
According to officials, the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion In Northern California from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, has assisted with wildland fire response efforts at the August Complex in the Mendocino National Forest since Sept. 3.