Lebanon firefighters respond to NorCal blazes

Five Lebanon Fire Department firefighters are in Santa Rosa, Calif. with the Linn/Benton Strike Team, aiding in the battle against wildfires that, at press time, had killed at least 31 people, with hundreds more missing, and burned some 3,000 buildings.

Strike Team members departed Wednesday, Oct. 11.

“They left in the middle of the night, drove 12 hours and were on the fire line a couple of hours later,” said LFD Chief Gordon Sletmoe.

In all, 22 local firefighters went to battle the California wild land fires, according to a news release from the Albany Fire Department. The team includes firefighters from Lebanon, Albany Philomath, Sweet Home and Corvallis.

“We regularly send crews on fires out of the area,” Sletmoe said. “This is the fifth time this year.”

Many members of the Strike Team also worked the Chetco Bar Fire and the Eagle Creek Fire, according to the department.

LFD also sent a Strike Team Leader, Division Chief Ron Sipe.

The other LFD firefighters are Battalion Chief Ken Savage, Lt. Marshall Brookfield, Lt. Kyle Robertson and Engineer Blaine Suing.

Sletmoe said there was no indication how long the LFD staffers will be there, but they are prepared to stay for two weeks.

LFD will not see a decrease in service.

“We make sure all their positions are covered,” Sletmoe said.

LFD will be reimbursed by the state of Oregon for associated costs, and the state will get reimbursed by the state of California, he said.

While the crew is busy, they do provide a daily update either by phone or text.

If the general public wants to send some encouragement to firefighters, the LFD Facebook page is the best way, Sletmoe said.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/LebanonFireDistrict.