On August 6th, firefighters from three different Kalispel Tribe departments were sent, along with their wildland engine, to assist with firefighting efforts on the Crescent Mountain Fire in the Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest.
The Kalispel Tribe’s crew consisted of firefighter Jordan Puntillo (Teacher-1 from the Camas Early Learning Center), Engine Boss Trainee Joel Adams (Forestry and Wildlife Ecologist from the Kalispel Natural Resources Department) and Engine Boss Ken Peralta (Assistant Fire Chief from the Kalispel Fire Department).
Upon arrival, the crew was assigned to structure triage and protection along the Twisp River, West of the town of Twisp. The job of structure triage consisted of mitigating the hazards present, installing water tanks, water pumps and sprinkler systems to protect homes from the approaching fire.
Other assignments consisted of lookout, weather observations, attacking spot fires that had jumped over control lines, and making up sling loads for helicopters to fly out.
The fire was broken into several divisions to help control the number of resources on the fire.
Each day started at 0500 (5AM) with breakfast at 0600 (6AM) followed by a briefing, roll call, receiving assignments for the day and getting lunches to take out. After completing each day’s assignments, the crew would gather up with the other resources in their division to report on their assignment: what actually happened, why it happened, how they could improve in the future and if there were any additional needs they may have. Then they would travel back to the Incident Command Post for dinner, a shower and crawl back into their tents to sleep. Each days shift lasted from 13 ½ to 15 hours for 14 days (not counting any travel days to or from the fire) for each mobilization period. The Kalispel Tribe’s engine had two mobilizations to the Crescent Mountain Fire for a total of 32 days.
During this fire, Jordon started a Task book to become a Senior Firefighter and Joel was able to complete his Task book to become a qualified Engine Boss – which allows him to lead the engine crew next fire season.
The Crescent Mountain Fire was declared the number one priority fire in the nation, which resulted in resources from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Quinault Nation, Yakama Nation, 39 of the 50 U.S. States, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.
“Working with people from around the world was extremely interesting and fun.” says one of the crew members. They look forward to what the next fire season brings them and the Kalispel Tribe.