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Lane County firefighters sent to help in Sisters

Smoke from the Milli Fire. (Deschutes National Forest)

LEABURG, Ore.- As the Milli Fire continues to burn near Sisters, firefighters from Lane County are stepping in to help.

Governor Kate Brown requested the Lane County Task Force, a group of on-call firefighters, traveled to the Milli Fire to help protect homes threatened by the fire.

The State of Oregon can mobilize firefighters to protect homes from wildfires under the state conflagration act.

The Lane County Task Force assembled at McKenzie Fire Station # 3 in Leaburg at noon Thursday. Crews from multiple fire agencies met at the station, briefed on the situation, and then left for Sisters just before 12:30.

"We'll be over there, doing structure protection, and hopefully helping the community," Task Force Leader Larry Merrill said. Merrill is also part of Lane Fire Authority.

The team includes engines from Eugene-Springfield Fire, Lane Fire Authority, Dexter Fire and South Lane Fire, as well as a water tender from McKenzie Fire & Rescue.

Chad Minter, Lane Fire Defense Chief, says the crews will be there for 5 to 7 days, providing resources and protecting structures. Minter says after they got the original call to action, they got another call- requesting an even earlier leave time.

"The fire's progressing pretty fast, a lot of homes are threatened, so they wanted the task force out a little sooner than later," Minter said. "We're prepared with water, MREs in our rigs, and food. Not good food, but survivable food."

Minter says he's concerned about fuel and gas reserves due to the crowds coming into Oregon for the eclipse. He says if there's an emergency fuel shortage, the National Guard will bring them fuel.

The Red Cross has established a shelter in Sisters for people evacuated due to the fire. The Milli Fire has also forced the Oregon DOT to close McKenzie Pass Highway.

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