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Whidbey crews fighting Carlton wildfire

Five North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighters traveled last week to help battle the Carlton Complex Fire in north-central Washington.

The Carlton Complex Fire is now the largest wildfire in Washington state history, having affected 336 square miles, as of Saturday.

The fire was ignited on July 14 after lightning strikes started a few smaller fires that ultimately merged into one.

The Whidbey firefighters, who received special training required by the state Department of Natural Resources to fight wildfires, were sent to help battle the wildfire because North Whidbey Fire and Rescue is a part of a regional “strike force,” according to the department’s chief, Marv Koorn.

“We’re listed as a potential resource that can go help other stations that don’t have enough resources or cant get enough resources quickly,” Koorn said.

According to Koorn, the department has two type-six engines, which are basically “brush trucks,” a command vehicle and five firefighters assigned to the strike team right now.

And this isn’t the first time the department has been out to fires in other areas.

“This is our second time we’ve been out this year, and this is our third fire we’ve been on,” Koorn said about the strike team.

The other two fires were the Mansfield Fire and the Bridgeport Fire.

The firefighters, who are enduring 12-hour shifts, have been “holding the line,” Koorn said.

“They’ve been doing back burning; they’ve been doing structural protections,” he said.

They are focused on trying to save structures from burning, Koorn said.

The strike team has been clearing out the area around the structures to try and keep the fire from reaching them.

The firefighters from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue who are helping to fight the Carlton Complex Fire are Albert Treiber, Tom Mohlsick, Chris Turner, Josh Richards and Ryan McCarthy, Koorn said.

Oak Harbor Fire Chief Ray Merrill said he has a crew on standby that’s ready to go if they’re needed.

“We’re anticipating going,” he said.

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