The government will mobilize 200 active-duty soldiers to help fight the wildfires torching the West — the first time it has taken that step in nearly a decade.
The Defense Department said the soldiers would come from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington state. They will be divided into 10 crews of 20 soldiers each and sent Sunday to a wildfire to be determined.
Before deployment, the soldiers will be trained as firefighters for one day in a classroom and two days in the field, the National Interagency Fire Center said.
Active-duty military personnel have been mobilized 35 times since 1987 to fight wildfires, the center said. The last time was in 2006, when a battalion from Lewis-McChord helped fight a fire in Washington state.
In the current wildfire outbreak, California, Washington and Oregon have also mobilized the National Guard.