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Florida firefighters, forest rangers going to Oregon to aid wildfire battle

Flagler County firefighters, Florida Forest Service workers head out

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FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Two members of Flagler County Fire Rescue and two Jacksonville Forest Rangers are leaving to help firefighters in central Oregon battle wildfires in the region.

Ronald Titus, 32, and Justin Thomas, 29, of Flagler County, will work together as members of the same team. It's the fifth time that Titus has aided in fighting wildfires in the western united States, his first as a "squad boss." Thomas is mobilizing for the first time. 

“I’m a little nervous, because this is my first leadership opportunity,” Titus said, noting he has fought western wildfires in California, Idaho and Washington State, as well as Oregon. “I’m glad Justin will be on my team. It will be good for him because it is his first out-of-state trip.”

Both men worked together in Volusia County before Flagler County. Titus has worked for Flagler County Fire Rescue since 2011 and Thomas since December 2014.

Titus and Thomas are both married with families in Flagler County.

“My wife is supportive,” said Thomas, who was notified Tuesday by the Florida Forest Service about the deployment.

Titus looks forward to expanding his experience and horizons.

“It’s the kind of firefighting I like to do,” Titus said. “I also like having the opportunity to travel places I might not otherwise have a chance to see.”

Three Jacksonville area Florida Forest Service wildland firefighters will be assisting on wildfires out west.

Forest Area Supervisor Terrell Drew left for California on Wednesday to serve as a Dozer Boss.

Senior Forest Ranger Matthew Klindt and Forest Ranger Roger Ness will be leaving from Brooksville on Thursday and traveling to Oregon to be part of the two 20-person Florida hand crews being sent out. 

Florida Forest Service deployed 40 additional firefighters this morning to assist wildfire suppression efforts in the western United States. The two hand crews of 20 firefighters each are part of the department's ongoing effort to help combat one of the worst wildfire seasons in U.S. history.

“Our firefighters will continue to provide unwavering support to other states in need of assistance to fight wildfires,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

The Florida Forest Service's two crews are from various districts around the state. They are joined by three other crews from Georgia and Puerto Rico, totaling 100 firefighters. The five crews will fly from Tampa to Oregon, where they will receive their fire assignments.

“The Florida Forest Service has deployed a total of 343 firefighters to the western United States this year, and we applaud their dedication to helping protect lives, property and our country's natural resources,” said State Forester Jim Karels.