State calling back retirees to help with wildfires

State calling back retirees to help with wildfires

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by KGW.com staff

kgw.com

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 2 at 7:14 PM

PORTLAND -- Oregon's wildfire situation is so extreme the state is finding help in some creative ways, including from retired state employees.

So far, six Portland firefighters have been called into service on the southern Oregon wildfires. Local fire departments across the state are jumping in to help because the fires have stretched state resources to the limit.

More: S. Oregon skies thick with wildfire smoke

The department of forestry headquarters in Salem was eerily empty Friday with more than 100 of the 200 employees helping out at the fires in a variety of roles.

The situation is so dire, retired fire experts and employees from other state agencies have been called in to fill in the gaps.

Prior to Wednesday, logistics expert Steve Lamb had been retired for three years. Now, he’s been called back into service.

“I enjoy it. I really enjoy it. I like to work, obviously I like retirement even better, but it's fun being back,” he said.

The National Guard is also helping out by providing firefighting aircraft and traffic control on the ground. They're already calling this the worst fire season since 2002 and it's still very early.

On Saturday, senators Merkley, Wyden and governor Kitzhaber will be visiting the fire scene in Glendale.

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KGW reporter Wayne Havrelly contributed to this report.

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