ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Members of a New York state forest firefighting crew are heading south to help contain wildfires burning in Virginia and Alabama.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos says the DEC wildfire crew members are some of the most well-trained forest firefighters in the DEC's ranks.

Four of the New Yorkers are being assigned to a 20-member crew that will help battle a 1,200-acre wildfire in Norton, Virginia. A fifth DEC employee is a helicopter crew member who will support efforts to extinguish wildfires in Alabama.

New York has been sending DEC crews to battle out-of-state wildfires since 1979. DEC officials say all travel and administrative costs are paid by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to the state.