U.S. Forest Service receives support from the National Park of American Samoa

Contact(s): Cathy Keeler, (530) 226-2705

REDDING, California— A 16-member fire crew traveled from the National Park of American Samoa to northern California to assist in the wildfire efforts. The crew consists of five veteran firefighters and 11 rookies.

Men and women in uniform walk in a single line on the street.

The crew is excited about their fire assignment according to Anthony Wyberski, squad boss trainee. “It’s good to get called out.” The knowledge will be used to build their wildfire program and provide a better understanding of fire awareness to their communities, families, and children.

The Samoan crew is currently assigned to a northern California incident. In partnership with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the National Park of American Samoa trains staff and local villagers in the skills required to fight fires at home and within other areas of the United States.

For some, this is not their first assignment on the mainland. Pouono Lomiga is here for his 5th assignment. His first one came in 2008. “The crew feels blessed, honored, and fortunate to be here,” stated Tau Thompson. Thompson is a native of American Samoa and a veteran firefighter with the Samoan crew. He spent 10 years in Oregon and Idaho as a private sector firefighter before returning home.

The Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center in Redding, CA welcomed the Samoan crew with new personal protective equipment (PPE) which included a fire pack, hardhat, eye protection, gloves, boots, and a fire shelter just to list a few items.  In return, they performed celebratory songs and dances that are a part of their culture.

The firefighters expressed gratitude to the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park of American Samoa superintendent, Scott Burch, and Ross Williams; fire management officer and staff in Hawaii.

Follow the latest California fire information updates on Twitter @R5_Fire_News and by viewing http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/5/.

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.


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