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Local firefighters making a difference in California wildfire

Photograph by Shawn Boyd inside the fire lines of the Cove Fire. Much of the devastation was described by fire chiefs as “a nuclear winter.” [Cal Officer of Emergency Services website]

American Samoa's local fire crew is playing a crucial role in fighting fires in the US, working alongside their peers from the mainland, since they departed the territory earlier this month.

Recently, the local fire crew was involved in efforts to contain the Modoc July Complex Wildfire, which affected mostly grasslands and is a series of wildfires affecting parts of the Modoc National Forest located in Northern California.

Our local fire crew also played a big part in containing the 120-acre Chalk Fire, working side by side with counterparts from the mainland.

Help for the fire fighters also came in the form of falling rain but the very next day, rising temperatures and heat from the sun became concerns, as they can spark fuel and essentially start new fires.

The fire proved very tough to contain, as there were more fires reported at the same time, in the same region.

The local crew arrived in Sacramento earlier this month and was immediately put to work. At the end of the trip, they will develop a better understanding of wildfire suppression and firefighting techniques.

The crew is expected to return home in early September.

Acting Superintendent of the National Park, Daniel George said, “We are proud to send our crew to help protect natural resources and keep communities safe during this severe fire season on the mainland."

He continued, "The skill and dedication of our Samoan crew is well known and very much respected on the mainland."

George noted that the National Park has been sending firefighting crews to the mainland for 17 years now, and are made up of government employees and local villagers who are trained to gain skills and techniques required to fight fires at home and other places within the nation.

These trips have been made possible through a partnership between the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the National Park of American Samoa.

"We are looking forward to the safe arrival of the fire crew and the newfound knowledge that they can apply in fighting fires for our territory," George concluded.