Citizens of reservations across the west have gathered on the Crow Reservation for two reasons this weekend: for Crow Fair, and to fight the Hoss wildfire in the Bighorn mountains.
Because of the inaccessibility and rough country, aircraft are the most effective tool for stanching the Hoss fire, said Randy Pretty On Top, Incident Commander. To that end, helicopter booster crews from several reservations are helping the Crow BIA helitack.
The Ute Mountain helitack brought their A-Star helicopter from southern Colorado, led coincidentally by a Crow tribal member. Five members of the Navajo helitack arrived Wednesday from Arizona, where fire season has slowed for the summer. The Navajo helitack are coordinating use of three helicopters flying from a helibase above the Ok-a-beh Road near Fort Smith.
BIA fire crewmembers have come to the fire from the Northern Cheyenne, Flathead and Wind River Reservations as well as from Oregon. Native firefighters were the backbone of wildfire assaults for decades in the American west. Their efforts on the Hoss fire mesh with security contributions from Crow Tribal game wardens, who patrol the reservation Bighorns year-round to help keep the mountains safe. The Bitterroot and Baker (Washington) hotshot crews have also been working three days on the fire.
Meanwhile, the 93rd annual Crow Fair is in full swing in Crow Agency, with parades, rodeos and powwows. Uxpitche alapeechish, or Smokey Bear, is in town. Visitors also come from foreign countries to see the “Tepee Capital of the World.”
A heavy helicopter with a 1200-gallon bucket helped three other helicopters work hard since Wednesday quashing hotspots on the almost inaccessible Hoss fire. Updates and photos are available at http://inciweb.org .