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Gov. Otter Activates Idaho National Guard for Firefighting Efforts


Firefighting efforst across the Gem State are about to get a boost from the Idaho National Guard.

Wednesday afternoon, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter responded to a request from the Idaho Emergency Operations Center to activate the Guard to support of fire crews fighting the Clearwater Complex fires, which have destroyed nearly 50 homes near Kamiah in north-central Idaho.

"The devastation caused by the Clearwater Complex Fires has caused untold hardships and loss for individuals and families in north central Idaho," wrote Otter in a statement released by his office Wednesday. "We are using all available resources to ensure that lives and infrastructure are protected."

That includes Guard personnel and equipment, like the FireHawk—a modified Blackhawk helicopter assigned to the 168th Command Aviation Company of the ING that has been equipped with a 1,000-gallon water tank.

On Aug. 13, Otter issued a disaster declaration making activation of the ING and its missions possible. So far, the Clearwater Complex fires alone have burned more than 64,000 acres, having ignited an additional 21,000 acres since Aug. 18, and is 25 percent contained. 

At an Idaho Department of Lands State Land Board Meeting held Aug. 18, members of the Board, including Otter, were told that 2015 is the worst year for fire conditions since 1926, according to the Spokesman-Review.

"This is an unprecedented fire season that we're seeing both in dryness, the lack of precipitation, [and] we are seeing well above-average temperatures," said State Forester David Groeschl.