Texas crews deployed to help wildfire suppression efforts in Virginia

COLLEGE STATION, TX – An interagency wildland fire handcrew - including five firefighters from Texas Forest Service - deployed Sunday to assist with suppression efforts on the Neighbor Mountain Wildfire in Virginia.

The group is comprised of personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, National Parks Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Forest Service. They are trained in digging containment line with hand tools and will assist other personnel on the fire, which is burning in Shenandoah National Park. According to InciWeb.org, the Neighbor Mountain Wildfire ignited on June 26 and has burned 827 acres.

Texas Forest Service is eager to lend a hand to Virginia and other states that are battling wildfires this summer, said the agency's fire chief, Mark Stanford.

"The wildland fire response community is always standing ready to assist one another," Stanford said. "Today Texas gets the chance to help one of the states that came to our aid last year."

During the 2011 wildfire season, more than 16,000 emergency responders from all 50 states assisted Texas with wildfire suppression efforts..

Texas Forest Service personnel mobilized in June to assist with the recovery effort on the Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso, N.M.

Wildland firefighting resources are ordered through the Resource Ordering and Status System (ROSS) a national ordering system that tracks available personnel and equipment that can be mobilized for emergency response.

The death toll is at least 18 in weekend storms that have left millions without electricity in a swath of states from the East Coast to Ohio and Illinois. The latest reported death was in West Virginia. Authorities say a person died when riding an all-terrain vehicle that hit a fallen tree on a road early yesterday.

Utility companies warn it could take as many as five more days to restore all power.