Firefighters From Maryland Are Fighting Fires in 3 Western States

Maryland firefighters have been sent across the country to attack some of the fires burning in the west this summer. 

A total of 34 Maryland wildland firefighters have been sent to three states —Montana, Texas and California — to help on the front lines of several fires, said Monte Mitchell, a state fire supervisor with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

This summer's fires have already burned 2,500 square miles in 14 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center

On Monday, a 20-person crew from Maryland arrived in Missoula to help fight the Tenmile Fire, which is burning in the Kootenai National Forest in northwest Montana. About 281 firefighters have the nearly 1 square mile 18 percent contained, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. 

“It’s been a busy season for us,” Mitchell said. “We’ve pretty much depleted the resources that we have available here.”

Maryland has been sending crews to help fight wildland fires since 1974.

Some of the remaining firefighters are part of the response to the Carr fire, which has become one of the largest in California history, Mitchell said. That fire has burned over 270 square miles, destroyed over a thousand homes and damaged hundreds more structures.

The rest are members of first-responder teams in Texas that are putting out fires as they get reported, he said.

New crews will be heading to both Texas and California to relieve the current Maryland firefighters later this week, Mitchell said.

So many people can be sent to fight fires elsewhere because the season in Maryland happens at different times during the year, he said. 

“Our main fire seasons here are in spring and fall," he said. "And we had wet weather here in Maryland."

The agency responds to between 150 and 200 wild land fires annually in Maryland, he said. Many more are put out by local fire departments.  

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