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An Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter picks up water from Pardee Reservoir, in Ione, California, Saturday, April 14, 2018, during interagency aircrew training with CAL FIRE.
An Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter picks up water from Pardee Reservoir, in Ione, California, Saturday, April 14, 2018, during interagency aircrew training with CAL FIRE. (Crystal Housman/U.S. Air National Guard)

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (Tribune News Service) — Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's St. Cloud-based C Company, 2-211 General Support Aviation Battalion will be sent to Washington to combat wildfires.

The 10 soldiers will provide medical evacuation support and aerial fire suppression with a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter. They left Saturday and will provide support for at least two weeks, depending on how fire containment efforts continue.

Gov. Tim Walz authorized the support Saturday following a request from Washington officials. Walz sent the soldiers through a request from the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows a state to ask for resources based on their needs. Any state can respond, but are not required to participate.

"Wildfires continue to put our fellow Americans' lives at risk, and when disaster hits, Minnesotans have always stepped up to help out their neighbors. We continue to battle our own wildfires here in Minnesota, but we have the resources needed to manage those, and we are in a strong position to step up and help our fellow states," said Walz in a press release. "I am proud that the Minnesota National Guard has answered this call to serve. These soldiers' support will be critical to ensuring the safety of Washington residents during this harrowing time."

The soldiers are currently on standby at the Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington. The Washington Department of Natural Resources and Forestry Service, along with the Washington National Guard will determine the soldiers' locations based on the movement of the fires, Minnesota aviation officer Army Col. Greg Fix told the St. Cloud Times.

"The Minnesota National Guard has provided support to Washington previously in the last eight years, and the dryer climates have required the National Guard and the National Guard aviation more in recent years west of the Mississippi, particularly from Montana to Arizona and west," he said in an email.

(c)2021 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.)

Visit the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.) at www.sctimes.com

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