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National Guard tapped to wrangle Rockport wildfire

The National Guard has again been pressed into action, this time at the request of Rockport as the Cape Ann community continues to deal with a wildfire that has been burning across 19 acres for a month, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security said Thursday morning.

Gov. Charlie Baker has activated the National Guard for a variety of purposes in the last year, including to drive school buses amid a shortage of drivers and to help hospitals deal with the issues associated with strained capacity. His latest activation will make up to 30 "specially-trained service personnel available to assist local emergency responders in preserving life and property."

Rockport's Briarwood Fire is one of more than 800 wildfires that have burned a combined 1,248 acres in Massachusetts so far this year, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry. The Briarwood Fire "continues to smolder above and below ground" and a containment area has been established.

The teams being sent to Rockport — firefighters in the Massachusetts Army National Guard's tactical firefighting units on Joint Base Cape Cod — specialize in dealing with forest fires, structural fires, aircraft crash incidents, vehicle emergencies, and hazardous material incidents.

"Their wildfire suppression training, skilled expertise, and regular collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation equip them to strengthen the containment line and meaningfully contribute to Rockport's ongoing fire mitigation efforts," the Baker administration said.

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