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Oregon wildland fire crews awarded $640 million in federal contracts

Grayback Forestry crews work with Lomakatsi on a controlled burned in the Ashland Watershed in this undated file photo. The U.S. Forest Service awarded Grayback a five-year contract valued at $180 million Thursday. Mail Tribune file photo / Jamie Lusch.

Eight Oregon wildland firefighting companies were awarded contracts with the U.S. Forest Service valued at more than half a billion dollars over the next five years, including $280 million for Southern Oregon based crews.

At $180 million, Grayback Forestry of Merlin received the largest share of the five-year federal firefighting contracts worth $640 million between the eight Oregon companies, according to a joint release issued Thursday by the offices of U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Other contracts for Southern Oregon companies included $60 million to Pacific Oasis of Ashland and $40 million to Diamond Fire of Sutherlin.

“The contracts awarded by the Forest Service will help ensure our firefighting teams continue to receive the tools, training, and support they need to keep them safe and equipped during their dangerous work and to continue protecting Oregonians across the state,” Merkley stated in the release.

“I’m pleased the Forest Service has recognized these Oregon companies can provide these essential and courageous workers who can defend communities from the devastation that wildfires can unleash,” Wyden stated.

The remaining $360 million will go to firefighting firms based in the cities of Redmond, Salem, Philomath, Merrill and Independence.