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U.S. Army Soldiers Mobilized To Help Suppress Wildfires For First Time Since 2006

Western firefighters will be getting help from the U.S. Army for the first time in nine years. Which fire the soldiers will fight has not been announced. In this photo, Sonoma Valley Firefighters put out a hot spot from the Rocky Fire near Clearlake, Calif., earlier this month.

The Army is deploying 200 soldiers to help fight wildfires that are burning through about 1.1 million acres across the Western United States. That's according to a press release from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"It's been nine years since wildfire was so widespread all at once that active military troops joined firefighters battling blazes," NPR's Howard Berkes reports. "Four military C-130 cargo planes are also in use as air tankers."

A group at the fire center in Boise submitted the request to the Department of Defense, according to the press release, which cites about 95 large wildfires in seven states.

The DOD approved deployment of soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. They'll be organized into 10 crews, all sent to the same fire, which has yet to be announced.

Howard notes that National Guard troops have already been called in to help. The soldiers will be joining nearly 30,000 firefighters and support crews. He says that there are talks underway that may bring in firefighters from New Zealand and Australia.

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