- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

OMAK, Wash. (AP) - Washington officials say more than 3,000 people called and emailed in response to the state’s request for volunteer help with wildfires.

The bad fire season has been severely straining resources. The Department of Natural Resources on Friday opened centers in Omak and Colville to coordinate offers of help from trained, qualified volunteer firefighters and from people who have and can operate machinery like backhoes and bulldozers to dig fire lines.

DNR spokesman Joe Smillie (SMILE’-ee) says the centers are sorting through the names to see what people have to offer. He says most are probably not qualified to help right now, but about 200 equipment operators are expected to get training in deploying emergency fire shelters and other basics on Saturday.

Deployment to a wildfire will depend on the availability of professional firefighting staff to escort and direct the volunteers.

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