Illinois Interagency Fire Crew Returns from Second Deployment of 2021 Fire Season

Illinois Interagency Fire Crew Returns from Second Deployment of 2021 Fire Season
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Interagency Fire Crew returned recently from a second 2021 fire season deployment to combat wildfires in northern Minnesota.

During the spring and summer of 2021, a prolonged drought has resulted in conditions that can lead to large wildfires.  The Illinois crew supported the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with its firefighting efforts before being assigned to the Greenwood Fire in northeastern Minnesota near Isabella. This lightning-caused fire burned more than 26,000 acres of timber and peat. 

The Illinois crew helped stop the spread of the fire by lighting backfires (to remove fuel in the fire’s path) and installed fire breaks around spot fires caused by wind-blown embers. These spot fires had the potential to spread outside the area where the fire was already contained. 

Air tankers attacked these fires first by dropping water on the escaped fires so ground crews could move in and contain them. The Illinois crew then used chainsaws to remove remaining fuel and hand tools to create firebreaks. Sawyers also felled dead standing and burning trees to allow the crew to work safely within the spot fire containment area and extinguish any remaining hot spots. 

In addition to working directly to extinguish the fire, the Illinois crew created fire breaks and removed trees and brush around structures to protect them from advancing flames. Portable pumps provided water to keep the area wet to protect it from fire. 

Wildfire deployments are typically 14 working days, plus travel to and from the area. The Illinois crew returned home safely from this Minnesota deployment September 6. The Illinois crew had previously deployed to Minnesota in July and early August. During the summer fire season, federally-qualified and trained wildland firefighters are dispatched to combat wildfires wherever they are needed.

The Illinois Interagency Fire Crew on this deployment included staff from the IDNR, U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Shawnee RC&D. All expenses were covered by the U.S. Forest Service through an interagency agreement with the IDNR Division of Forest Resources.

Illinois crewmembers included:

Makenna Baxter – The Nature Conservancy
Wade Bloemer – IDNR Forestry
Nick Bumgarner – IDNR Land Management
Phillip Cox – IDNR Natural Heritage
Austin Davidson – USFS Ozark St. Francis National Forest
Andy Delorenzo – Federal Contract Firefighter
Caleb Grantham – The Nature Conservancy
Hannah Hagarty – Federal Contract Firefighter
Jacob Hess – Shawnee RC&D
Justin LaMountain – USFS Allegheny National Forest
Jenny Lesko – IDNR Forestry
Steve Letizia – IDNR Land Management
Rich Lewis – IDNR Strategic Services
Nick Seaton – Shawnee RC&D
Benjamin Snyder – IDNR Forestry
Jim Tresouthick – IDNR Forestry
Morgan Walder – IDNR Natural Heritage
Adrian Walker – IDNR Grants and Federal Aid
Beth Weber – IDNR Wildlife

Follow IDNR on Facebook and Twitter