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DEC rangers to fight wildfires on other side of the country

A state forest ranger fights one of several wildfires in the Adirondacks over Memorial Day weekend. (Photo provided by DEC)

Ten forest rangers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are on their way west, where for the next two weeks they will help firefighting crews battle massive wildfires.

The team — a DEC forest ranger crew boss and nine rangers, all trained wildland firefighters — will be stationed in either California, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska or Kansas to contain and minimize damage caused by the “high priority wildfires.”

DEC officials said they will not release names and other information on who has been sent out west until after they return.

“Neighbors help neighbors, and just as other states have helped New York during its darkest hours, we are here to lend a hand in their time of need,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release. “I thank these brave men and women for stepping up and showing just what ‘New York Tough’ really means.”

“DEC’s wildland firefighters protect our communities and vital habitat across the state,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release. “And for more than 40 years, New York has stood ready to assist other states during manmade and natural disasters. I commend our firefighters and wish for their safe and speedy return.”

The state first sent first firefighting crews to assist western states in 1979. According to the state, on average, the DEC has sentd one or two crews to assist with wildfires in every year since.

The U.S. Forest Service will directly pay all personnel and travel expenses for the New York crews or they will be reimbursed to the state based on a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies.

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