Fourteen Michigan Department of Natural Resources employees, who are trained as firefighters, currently are helping to contain wildfires in Alaska and Manitoba.

Three four-man crews have been dispatched to Manitoba to assist with its ongoing wildfire suppression efforts. Manitoba is a partner in the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact, which also consists of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario.

“Cooperative efforts between counties, states and countries are crucial during emergency situations,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division. “The experience our highly trained staff receives when they are on out-of-state assignments is an asset when they are fighting wildfires here at home.”

The DNR will continue to provide assistance to the national fire efforts while fire conditions remain critical. Nationally, there are nine large uncontained fires currently burning, with 163 new fires that started July 21.

The DNR is fully reimbursed for all costs associated with the support.

Because of the cooperative agreement, the Michigan DNR received fire-suppression assistance from other states, federal agencies and the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact in 2007 on the 18,000-acre Sleeper Lake fire and three years ago on the 21,000-acre Duck Lake fire.

So far this year, the DNR has provided suppression on 297 wildfires, which burned 2,730 acres.

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