Fire Season Begins for Riverbend Crew

Youth in Camp Riverbend’s wildland firefighter training program responded to a blaze this week.

The Camp Riverbend fire crew was called into action this week to fight a 4.35-acre wildfire five miles outside of La Grande, Oregon.

“With the coronavirus going on, hiring and training (for firefighting) is limited, so currently we are the only large response team in the area,” says Troy Fuller, camp director at Riverbend, which is also located outside of La Grande.

Brett Dunten, Riverbend’s firefighting program leader, says the youth received a call Monday night. A small group of Oregon Department of Forestry supervisors briefed the youth before they headed out to take care of the fire.

Located near the town of Perry, the fire burned near several homes, but the youth were able to protect them.

Riverbend’s wildfire training program has a long history of training youth to fight fires. Youth can earn a wildland firefighting certificate. Many graduates of the program have gone on to get jobs as firefighters when they returned to the community.

Photos by Ben Heckman and Brett Dunten

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