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NEWS | May 13, 2020

US Navy Seabees Help Fight Wild Brushfires in the Northern Mariana Islands

By Engineering Aide 2nd Class Yohanes Nuguse Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5

TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands -- Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands – U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 assisted in the preventative and reactionary support of quelling local brushfires in Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) from May 9 to May 11.

As the brushfires spread throughout the 40-square-mile island, Seabees from NMCB-5 demonstrated support capabilities.

Lt. Patrick Daniele, NMCB-5’s Detail Tinian officer in charge, contacted the fire department and asked how they could help. The Seabees immediately arrived on site to provide Tinian’s Fire Department with 2,000 gallons of water to control the fire and coordinated future support.

Brush fires are common to the CNMI during the dry season, which is December to June. All local fires are given names of dragons, and since the Seabees fought the fires the local fire department declared the Seabees with NMCB-5 as “Dragon Slayers” for their rapid response and support with the fires.

“I think the Seabees are a vital part of our nation's deterrence against war,” said Gus Dosalua, Tinian firefighter. “[The Seabees] are also a vital resource to communities such as ours in times of disasters and emergencies that we can’t handle ourselves.”

Equipment operators worked with the fire department and other components of the civil service on the island using an MK28C water truck to aid in putting out the fire. The truck had a 2,000-gallon capacity to transport water to locations where fire hydrants were not available. Seabees were able to decrease the turnaround time of refilling fire engine so firefighters could stay on top of the fight.

On May 10 and May 11, the Seabees used CAT 924-G front-end loader to clear burned and downed power line poles which were obstructing roads and preventing firefighters from accessing local farms and ongoing fires. On another occasion, they spread fresh dirt covering a 500-foot span along a divided road to smother the fire and prevent it from spreading to an adjacent farm.

“It’s always nice and fulfilling to be able to help the community using our training,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class Scott Valente, from Ramona, California, deployed with NMCB-5.

NMCB-5 is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region conducting high-quality construction to support U.S. and partner nations to strengthen partnerships, deter aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection. The battalion stands ready to support Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief and Major Combat Operations throughout the region.
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