Connecticut fire crews sent to Minnesota, latest deployment

Published 3:18 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021

HARTFORD, Conn. — Thirteen members of the Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew have been deployed to Minnesota to help fight wildfires, the latest dispatch of personnel and resources from Connecticut to battle blazes in western states.

So far this year, 33 people from Connecticut have been sent to fight wildfires in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon.

This latest crew, sent on Wednesday, is part of a larger 20-person interagency from the northeast region. Members will be help with initial attack, relief of other crews and pre-positioning to get ahead of potential fires in Minnesota, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. They’ll primarily be working in the Superior National Forest during the 16- to 18-day deployment.

While wildfires in Minnesota are typically at their worst in the spring and fall, slowing down in the summer when trees and plants are fully green and rain increases, more than half of the state is experiencing drought conditions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects dry weather to continue through the summer. A wildfire warning was issued on July 25 for areas of north-central and northeast Minnesota, given the ideal weather conditions for wildfires, including strong winds and low humidity.

Connecticut officials said ongoing wildfires in Canada are now within one mile of the Minnesota border.

As of Thursday, there were 66 uncontained large fires in several western states being managed under a “full suppression strategy,” typically a direct attack, and 32 fires being managed under other strategies. The fires encompass more than 1.7 million acres cumulatively, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. Connecticut residents have been warned in recent days about poor air quality from the smoke from these fires and fine particles in the lower atmosphere.

The forestry division of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection maintains a roster of agency staff and private individuals, including many from local fire departments, who are certified to fight forest or wildfires. All state agency expenses from these deployments are 100% reimbursed by the U.S. Forest Service.