JBLM soldiers train to help battle California’s historic wildfires
PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - The soldiers based in the Puget Sound region are poised to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, and now, they're getting ready to fight the historic wildfires in California.
Some of the soldiers are actually from California and soon will be going back into their communities to help neighbors. The United States Forest Service says it could dip into Joint Base Lewis-McChord again for more resources if local wildfires flare.
"Proud and happy to go," said Sgt. Oscar Angel, who took part of the wildfire-fighting training on Monday.
He and dozens of other soldiers from the Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th infantry division, will soon push into California. If the need arises in Washington, more soldiers could also join the fire lines locally.
"This area looks a lot better than other places in the west," said Frank Guzman from the U.S Forest Service. "I’m from Idaho and it is really dry there as well."
RELATED: Caldor Fire evacuation orders expand to Lake Tahoe's south shores
As fire seasons begin sooner and last longer, some soldiers wonder if next year they will deploy yet again to help fellow Americans.
"We understand it’s a big task but we’re getting the training and we’re ready to go," said Sgt. Ramon Juarez.
The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center noted Monday morning that the cool weather expected this week dampens the threat of large wildfires erupting, but the winds could become a problem for fires already burning.
Soldiers at JBLM could complete training by the end of this week.
RELATED: Why it takes months to subdue some wildfires
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