Local crews headed to Cle Elum to battle raging wildfire

TRI CITIES -- It takes a lot of crew and gear to fight the biggest fire burning in the country right now.

The state issued the call for help at Taylor Bridge, after the fire grew to 30,000 acres in just one day. And more than a dozen firefighters from the Tri Cities and Prosser responded.

"We are guaranteed to be on the ground at least 72 hours," says Devin Helland of Benton Fire District 1. "There's structure protection going on. There's burn-outs, there's fire that needs to be put out, there's mop ups, there's evacuations. They could be doing a number of different things when they get there."

A total of 15 local firefighters are deploying -- All of them volunteering to put themselves, literally, in the line of fire.

Jason Templeton says this will be his first state deployment. "Oh, it means a whole lot. Helping people is something I've always wanted to do. And this is my chance to do it."

It turns out, it's also a chance for local crews to pick up skills they couldn't get here.

"It's a good learning experience. It's kind of nice getting out and seeing other types of fuels, and how other people fight fires. You can come back here and try to apply it.

Helland says, "We want to do it, but we also want to help our own community. And if this kind of thing happens here, we're hoping and knowing the rest of the state will come help us."

The crews are each committing to a full three days on the fire lines.

But depending on how this blaze grows, more help could be needed. And our local officials tell Action News they will be ready to answer that call.