Piedmont foresters train to help with fires in western US

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LEXINGTON, N.C. -- Employees with the North Carolina Forest Service are helping crews fight fires in the western United States.

Many of the people providing assistance are from the Piedmont.

Lexington is home to the North Carolina Forest Service’s District 10 office. Employees there are providing support in California, Alaska, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon.

“In this district, this 10-county district, we've got 35 people and we've got 14 people on a dispatch right now, but we just had a large group recently get back,” Mark Bost, district forester with the North Carolina Forest Service, said.

District Ranger Glen Coley recently returned from a 17-day assignment in Northern California as a task force leader.

"The fire I was on was about 34,000 acres in size,” Coley said.

To put it into perspective, that’s just over three times the size of Lexington.

For the first time in its 100-year history, The North Carolina Forest Service not only dispatched personnel but sent equipment as well.

The agency sent three engines—former military trucks that have been converted into fire trucks that can carry 600 to 800 gallons of water.

The fire season in the Western part of the United States usually starts to slow down in September and October; however, crews in North Carolina are prepared for dispatches to continue through October.

The North Carolina Forest Service has dispatched 242 employees to western states this year.