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Jackson Hot Shots and the Wind River-Bighorn Basin fire crew.

Jackson Hotshots and the Wind River-Bighorn Basin fire crew.

Mississippi Hotshot Crew Makes Worland Their Home Away From Home

By Sarah Beckwith, Public Affairs Specialist, Wind River/Big Horn Basin District

The only BLM hotshot crew east of the Mississippi River spent the summer in Wyoming, all the way from Jackson, Miss. Worland served as home away from home for the hotshots while they fought fires throughout the west and assisted BLM with hazardous fuels reduction projects.

When they weren’t fighting wildfires, the Jackson Hotshots worked on multiple fuels projects including aspen enhancement in the Brokenback Mountains, juniper thinning in Enos Creek, and Wildland Urban Interface fuel break improvement in Sand Draw near Ten Sleep.

Firefighting was their top priority, however, and the hotshots fought fires in Wyo., Colo., Idaho and Utah. "It's more logistically efficient and less expensive for the hotshot crew to be stationed somewhere in the west during fire season rather than travel back and forth between Jackson, Miss. and the big western fires," said Fire Management Officer Chuck Russell. "We began a partnership with the Eastern States BLM and part of this partnership includes hosting the Jackson Hotshots through the summer months here in the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District."

A hotshot crew is a 20-person organized crew used primarily for wildfire suppression, fuels reduction, and other fire management duties. They perform the same duties as hand crews, however, they are very specialized and are generally placed in the most rugged terrain, in the most active and difficult areas of wildfires. Hotshot crews are used mostly on large fires, but can also be used for initial attack on smaller fires.

Since being formed in 1997, the Jackson Hotshots have fought disastrous wildfires throughout the nation. In addition, they have been called upon to assist with national emergencies including Ground Zero after 9/11 and search and recovery operations from the Space Shuttle Columbia. The Hotshots were also available for recovery efforts following several devastating hurricanes in the southeast over the past several years, including Katrina and Rita.

"The Jackson Hotshots are a well-trained, motivated crew that has helped us accomplish a great deal this summer," Russell said. "They contribute a lot to our fire management program and I'm sure we will build on this partnership for years to come.”

Last updated: 11-25-2009