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Schools prepare more space for figherfighters

North Wasco County School District is yielding more school space to serve incoming firefighters and their equipment on the Government Flats Fire Complex near The Dalles.

In addition to providing base camp for Conflagration Act firefighters from around the state at Wahtonka campus — which has also spilled out onto Chenowith Elementary School grounds — the district readied Chenowith Middle School for the arrival of National Guard firefighting assets.

School athletes have continued to practice on Wahtonka fields this week as the tent camp has grown around them.

“We’re going to keep them at Wahtonka as long as possible,” Armstrong said.

The school district has an agreement with fire authorities through Labor Day, she noted, but plans are in place to relocate students and teachers whose programs normally would be located in the school buildings.

“Fortunately, they do not involve a lot of students,” Armstrong said.

The Head Start program based at Wahtonka is not starting until later in the fall, she noted.

The Oregon Army National Guard has deployed one HH-60M Blackhawk helicopter, one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and one UH-72 Lakota helicopter and approximately 20 aviation support personnel to assist incident commanders with fire suppression, according to Guard authorities.

Earlier this month, the Oregon National Guard provided support to incident commanders at the Douglas Complex Fire near Glendale, with five aircraft and approximately 140 Soldiers assisting with traffic control in the evacuated area. The Oregon Army National Guard dropped nearly 500,000 gallons of water assisting with fire suppression at the Douglas Complex Fire. Approximately 35 Soldiers and one aircraft remain on state active duty in support of this effort.

Personnel at the Oregon Military Department’s Joint Operations Center, and Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management in Salem, Ore., are closely monitoring the fire situation and remain in contact with incident commanders in the affected areas.

The Oregon National Guard provides support to county and state first-responders and incident commanders for the protection of critical infrastructure, property, and citizens at wild land fires burning throughout the state when requested.

Several wildfires also continue to burn throughout the western states of Washington, California, Idaho, and Montana.

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