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200 U.S. Army soldiers to start training at JBLM in Tacoma to fight wildfires

The soldiers will be trained at JBLM in Washington and should be ready to join hand crews on fire lines in early September.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — U.S. Army soldiers will start training this weekend at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma to help fight wildfires burning across the western United States.

Officials with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, asked the Department of Defensive (DoD) for help fighting wildfires. 

The DoD approved the request, and approximately 200 active-duty U.S. Army soldiers will mobilize and train to help fight the wildfires. 

There are currently 105 large wildfires burning across the western U.S. and more than 3.8 million acres have burned this year, according to a statement from the USDA Forest Service on Friday. Officials say above normal fire activity is occurring in northern California, Arizona, Colorado and several other states. 

The soldiers will start training at JBLM on Sunday, August 30. The training will take place in the classroom and in the field with the basics of wildland fire suppression and fire safety. The soldiers should be ready to join hand crews on fire lines in early September. This is the first active-duty mobilization for wildfire support since 2018, officials said. 

Active duty military members have been deployed as wildland firefighters 38 times in the past 33 years.