- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota officials said Friday they would dispatch two Blackhawk helicopters and 14 associated personnel to help fight the wildfires in Washington state.

Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order to provide the assistance in a state dealing with widespread fires that are chewing up hundreds of thousands of acres.

The Minnesota National Guard helicopters will be there for up to 15 days. A Guard spokesman says there are four crew members on each helicopter, four crew members and two other on-the-ground personnel assigned to the mission. That includes a Department of Natural Resources operations manager.

Maj. Scott Ingalsbe said the team headed west has experience in battling fires in Minnesota.

“It’s not uncommon for our aviation folks to be assisting with the firefighting mission,” he said.

Dayton is extending the assistance through an interstate mutual aid compact that Minnesota entered into in 2014.

Washington is among the hardest hit of arid western states dealing with unusually fierce wildfires this season.

The blazes have grown so explosive that the federal government declared an emergency and state officials took the unprecedented step of seeking volunteers to help fight the flames.

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