National Guardsman training to fight wildfires in southern Orego - KPTV - FOX 12

National Guardsman training to fight wildfires in southern Oregon

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SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

More than 100 Oregon National Guard soldiers are getting ready to battle a relentless wildfire in southern Oregon.

The soldiers trained on dry, grassy terrain in Salem in near 100-degree heat Monday. Most of them had never done wildland firefighting before, but they said they are up to the task.

The Oregon National Guard has 125 members going through the training this week, getting ready to fight the Chetco Bar Fire near Brookings. That fire has been burning for about six weeks and has grown to 108,000 acres.

This is the second wave of Oregon National Guard troops sent by Governor Kate Brown to help fight local wildfires.

Most of the volunteer soldiers have never done this kind of work before, so they’re learning how to use a hose line, dig fire lines, protect structures and monitor fire behavior.

Guardsman like Isaiah Wunische said the unknown is all part of what they signed up for when they joined the National Guard.

“You’re dealing with elements that most of us aren’t familiar with, especially in Oregon, maybe one month out of the year. It’s got its challenges, but we’ve got a great team. We work together, we overcome our obstacles,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better group of individual soldiers. We all have different backgrounds, different training, but we all come together as one.”

The Guard unit that trained in Salem Monday will finish up their training Tuesday before heading down to southern Oregon on Wednesday.

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