'We don’t fight fires, but if we can stop some of the damage that can happen from a fire before it actually happens, that's why we’re here'
WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Team Rubicon crews at the Museum at Warm Springs were cutting down trees, trimming branches, clearing brush and doing overall fuel reduction and fire mitigation on Friday.
Bill Terrill, incident commander for the Warm Springs Operation with Team Rubicon, has fought fires in Warm Springs before, and is happy to help reduce the future risk.
“We’re out here basically helping them because they don’t have the manpower to be doing this totally on their own,” Terrill said.
Team Rubicon is a veteran and first responder-based national organization that supports communities before, during and after disasters.
The group of nearly 20 people working in Warm Springs for the next few days are mostly veterans, first responders and a few civilians, all here on a volunteer basis.
The nonprofit started in 2010, providing aid in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.
After last year's S-503 Fire blackened nearly 7,000 acres in Warm Springs, and the Lionshead Fire that spread all the way to Detroit the year before that, Team Rubicon knew it needed to get involved.
“We don’t fight fires. But if we can stop some of the damage that can happen from a fire before it actually happens, that's why we’re here,” Terrill said. “And we tend to focus on areas that need help.”
Dan Martinez, tribal emergency manager of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, welcomed Team Rubicon's assistance.
“Well, it’s been a challenge to get help from an outside source with the high climate issues being what it is,” Martinez said. “Rubicon stepped to the plate and offered their services, and obviously I wasn’t going to turn that down.”
Martinez knows how at risk the entire Warm Springs area is to wildfires.
“We've got to look around our residences, make sure we have defensive lines in place and make sure we’re prepared for the summer,” Martinez said. “Could be hot, could be cold, but right now the fields are drying out.”
While Team Rubicon is focusing on areas around the museum, the casino and Highway 26, Martinez feels blessed any part of Warm Springs will be better-positioned to minimize risk, save homes and possibly save lives.
“By reducing this risk, we’re also increasing safety for the community, as well as the travelers that are passing through, particularly the ones that come and visit the museum,” Martinez said. “It is a good thing happening.”