WASHINGTON (Fox News) – One day after President Trump declared the California wildfires a “major disaster,” the U.S. military said it’s preparing to deploy hundreds of active-duty soldiers with engineering specialties to combat the blazes, Fox News has learned.
Roughly 200 active-duty U.S. Army soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state will ship out in the coming days, according to two defense officials. The unit will ship out after training to combat fires this week, one official said.
The soldiers are from the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division.
The combat engineers specialize in demolition and construction, normally as used in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the unit has deployed over the past decade.
It’s not immediately clear where the soldiers will be deployed.
The troops will join crews flying four active-duty Air Force C-130 cargo planes flying over California to drop water and fire retardant liquids. California national guard units are also battling the blazes.
At least nine people have died in the wildfires in California.
The White House said in a statement Sunday the president had ordered an increase in federal assistance to help states battle the wildfires.