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Platte firefighters to help battle Idaho blaze

The Platte Fire Department. (Republic file photo)

PLATTE — Three area firefighters are headed west to battle blazes.

Platte volunteer firefighters Jarrod Lang, Luke Meyerink and Eric Schoenfelder left Monday, traveling to Harvard, Idaho, where a fire was sparked in early September, burning more than 1,000 acres.

The trio has made a "heavy commitment" and will be away from home for approximately 14 days, according to Platte Fire Chief Rick Gustad.

"We're proud of them," Gustad said, adding he has faith in the men, who he said are well-trained and prepared for the task. "That's not an easy thing to do."

The blaze, called the Strychnine Fire, started Sept. 2 and forced hundreds to evacuate, according to local media. As of Monday, fire activity was "minimal" and remained contained within fire lines for six days. Crews on scene were anticipating spending the week working on improving containment and putting out the fire, according to a release issued by the Idaho Department of Lands.

And while the area firefighters' departure temporarily leaves the Platte Fire Department with three fewer crew members, Gustad said the department is still staffed well enough to handle any local fires.

"The biggest issue probably would be on their end — it's not real often going to a fire lines up with people being able to leave their paying jobs and families ... " Gustad said. "But we're set here and what those guys are doing is typical South Dakota taking care of people."