Oregon Sen. Merkley: more National Guard help coming to help with fires

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both from Oregon, said that more help from the National Guard is coming to help fight the wildfires.

The two senators, joined by Rep. Kurt Schrader and Rep. Peter DeFazio spoke in Oregon City on Friday morning to discuss resources to fire prevention now and for the future.

“We were working yesterday to get the additional funding freed up for additional national guard to be deployed, and we got word that has now been approved,” Sen. Merkley said.

According to Senator Merkley’s office, requests for additional assistance from the governor’s office had been denied, but the senator found a way to fund two more additional National Guard firefighting units.

Merkley’s office says the additional units, which will mean 250 more people coming to the area to help, will be trained over the next five days before they are deployed.

“When we have a challenge like this, it’s all about the Oregon way, it’s about coming together,” Sen. Wyden said.

There are currently about 375 National Guardsmen already trained and deployed, Sen. Merkley’s office said.

Senator Merkley secured funding for additional national guard troops through a program he began after the devastating 2017 wildfires.

“This unprecedented wildfire season is an all-hands-on-deck situation, and I’ve been doing everything I can to secure the federal resources we need to respond as aggressively and quickly as possible,” said Merkley. “After our devastating 2017 wildfire season, I worked to create this program, and last year I was able to grow it, and now we have resources available when we need them most.