Local fighting west coast wildfires

By Wayne Allen

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Camp Oyo Operations Director Matt Taylor has been among the many firefighters fighting wildfires on the west coast. Taylor is currently in Oregon helping to contain the fires.

“He (Taylor) has a special certification that allows him go to out and fight wildfires and he also serves as Nile Township Fire Chief,” said Chris Wiseman, a close friend to Taylor. “He has experience firefighting and the additional experience of fighting forest fires.”

When asked why Taylor went, Wiseman said, “typically whenever there is a level-five emergency reached, the state the fire is in will issue a call to other states that have firefighters with certain certification. He was just out there two years ago in California (fighting forest fires).”

Wiseman said Taylor could have refused to go, but did not.

“This was something he (Taylor) felt compelled to do. He works for the Boy Scouts and is very active in the forest, outdoor education is very important to him and preserving forests are also important to him as well,” Wiseman said.

Wiseman said Taylor is a pastor, volunteers with the fire department, grew up as a boy scout and became an Eagle Scout. Taylor has been working at Camp Oyo for nine years.

On Sunday, the Oregon wildfires measured about 374 square miles and was estimated to be about 10 percent contained, fire spokesman Dan Omdal said. More than 1,000 people were fighting the blazes. Sixteen large wildfires are burning across central and eastern Washington, covering more than 920 square miles. More than 200 homes have been destroyed, and more than 12,000 homes and thousands of other structures remain threatened.

The blazes were among several large fires burning across the West, taxing firefighting resources and prompting officials to seek help from other states and even abroad. Officials said Australia and New Zealand are sending firefighters to help battle the western blazes.

Wiseman said Taylor’s assignment has him out there for two weeks.

“The last time we talked with him, he said he was keeping a small fire contained from joining a bigger fire,” Wiseman said. “We asked him what a small fire was and he said imagine Shawnee State Forest on fire. As long as he can keep about 54,000 acres contained, he should be back later this week.”

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

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