An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | Sept. 14, 2020

Oregon National Guard deployed to help combat wildfires

By Tech. Sgt. Steph Sawyer 142nd Wing

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Air National Guard is sending 125 members to aid in fire emergency response efforts – 75 from the 142nd Wing at Portland ANG Base and 50 from Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls.

These Oregon Air Guard members are deploying in support of OPLAN (Operation Plan) Smokey, assisting the Oregon Military Department and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

The past several weeks, the West Coast has been plagued by wildfires and, though these fires are a yearly occurrence, this year’s have been particularly bad.

More than 85 wildfires are raging across California, Oregon and Washington. In Oregon alone, 46 fires have burned nearly double the state’s annual average acreage. As of Sept. 13, there are 35 active fires in Oregon and over 900,000 acres of land burned.

Across the state, the fires have wreaked devastating damage and loss of life. Many people have fled their homes as the fires continue to burn. Since last week, dense smoke has filled the skies over Oregon, causing hazardous air quality.

Master Sgt. Haina Searls, an avionics supervisor for the 142nd Maintenance Group, is one of the Airmen aiding in relief efforts throughout the state. He explains the role volunteers fill in the effort to mitigate these fires.

“We’re checking for hot spots, making sure it’s not going to spark up and cause a spot fire somewhere else,” says Searls. “A lot of times, we might be helping people evacuate out of their homes, making sure they’re out of harm’s way.”

Oregon Air National Guard volunteers may serve their state in several ways: by aiding fire teams, performing search and recovery, or by providing general support to the Joint Operations Center in Salem.

The volunteers will serve a minimum of 14 days but could be activated for up to 30 days if needed.

“We have the federal mission. This is the other part of what it means to be in the Guard, that’s to support our state and local communities,” says Lt. Col. Anthony Victoria, 142nd Wing Emergency Operations Center director.

The Guard is really about community members serving the community. These Guardsmen live and serve throughout the state of Oregon. Many of them have been negatively impacted by these fires.

“Their professionalism, the focus that they put on it, and their performance have been completely outstanding across the board,” says Victoria. “It just demonstrates that we’re there for our communities when they need us.”



Related Articles
Col. David Christensen, 142nd Maintenance Group commander, presents 142nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Staff Sgt. Mara Fenwick with a meritorious service medal for acts of bravery Feb. 25, 2024, at Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. Fenwick and a fellow Airman intervened when a truck went off the road in Eastern Oregon in May 2023.
Oregon National Guard Airmen Recognized for Bravery
By Senior Airman Yuki Klein, | Feb. 28, 2024
PORTLAND AIR GUARD STATION, Ore. - In May, during a casual drive over a mountain toward Three Rivers Marina on Lake Billy Chinook, Staff Sgt. Mara Fenwick and Senior Airman Bailey Buck, both weapons loaders with the Portland...

Oregon National Guard Tech. Sgt. Meghan Olson, 173rd Medical Group, checks the temperature of Senior Master Sgt. John Wyman, 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron, while Capt. Jaimie Nealy reviews his paperwork during an inprocessing briefing for Airmen activated to support hospitals across Oregon Sept. 2, 2021, at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Oregon Guard Airmen support Oregon hospitals
By Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar, | Sept. 2, 2021
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The Oregon National Guard activated 50 Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing Sept. 1 to support hospitals in the Springfield–Eugene area, with more on standby if additional hospitals request assistance...

Guardsmen from the 142nd Wing work in the Emergency Operation Center in support of Operation Plan Smokey at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., Sept. 18, 2020. The EOC team communicates with the Oregon Joint Operation Center to provide emergency management for scenarios such as wildfires.
EOC provides behind-the-scenes support during Oregon fires
By Senior Airman Valerie Seelye | Sept. 23, 2020
PORTLAND, Ore. – For nearly two weeks, Guardsmen from the Portland Air National Guard Base supported Operation Plan Smokey, an interagency wildfire relief effort. But the Airmen on the front lines are not the only ones who...