Local crews helped with Crooked Creek firefighting

Oct 7, 2015 By Kelli Ameling, Staff Writer

Firefighters from Fremont County joined a regional effort in battling the recent Crooked Creek Fire northwest of Dubois.

The county personnel stepped in to help protect land and structures from the wildfire that started Sept. 28.

Lander Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Tadd Curtin was one of three volunteers from the department who went to battle the Crooked Creek Fire.

"The way I see it, as firefighters, we are not only there for our local community but also for our surrounding communities," Curtin said. "When called out to an incident like this it is important that everyone comes together."

Curtin helped battle the blaze for three days before returning to his normal routine in Lander. This was not his first time assisting in battling another community's wildfire, and he plans to continue to help whenever he can.

"I would hope if I was in a situation like the town of Dubois, my fellow firefighters would come together to help out," Curtin said. "Everyone is up there for the same mission --to save life and property. I came away with a sense of accomplishment."

Lander fire administrator Nick Hudson said the LVFD tries to send firefighters when possible, especially when the fire is close and the department is able to switch out crews.

Hudson said it is especially important for LVFD firefighters to help out with wildfires to gain experience with associated protocols and procedures.

"(They) also have a chance to work with cooperators, not only with Fremont County Fire Protection District but other agencies as well," Hudson said.

About 20 firefighters from the FCFPD traveled to the Crooked Creek Fire, according to FCFPD warden Craig Haslam.

Initially, Haslam said, the fire was threatening 53 structures, along with property, so it was important to have as many firefighters involved as possible.

"We have a pretty good relationship with other districts when it comes to helping each other out," Haslam said, noting the FCFPD also works with other agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service

According to Lander Rural Fire Department chief Nick Johnson, two trucks were sent Sept. 28 from his department to the Dubois wildfire for structure protection. While the trucks stayed on the fire, replacement crews were sent up from the department to staff the engines.

"These guys are on a volunteer basis up to six hours," Johnson said. "After that, FCFPD has an agreement with BIA, BLM and the USFS to start getting compensated for their time."

Johnson explained that when an incident involves federal fire agencies Haslam has a list of eligible firefighters who can be gone for up to 14 days on an incident.