Missoula
59° F
Clear
Clear
Kalispell
53° F
Thunderstorm
Thunderstorm
Bozeman
60° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy
Advertisement

Bitterroot Hotshots mourn deaths of Arizona firefighters

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Jul 01 2013 08:10:03 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 01 2013 11:20:38 PM MDT

The elite Hotshots are a tight knit group.

The deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona hit close to home in Montana.

HAMILTON, Mont. -

Hotshot teams are some of the firefighting elite, many times called in as first responders to wildfires.

The tight-knit crews of 20 are spread out across the nation. There are 6 Hotshot crews in Montana. They are not limited to battling fires just in Big Sky Country. They can be sent out on fires in other states.

The Bitterroot Hotshots have already been fighting fire in other states. But they're home for now.

Squad leader Shane Doyle is our guide to Gird Point Lookout in the Sapphire Mountains. That's where Doyle's fellow Hotshots are cutting and stacking firewood from an old burn. The Forest Service rents the lookout to the public.

The Arizona tragedy is heavy on every Hotshot's mind.

"It's very eye opening," said Doyle, "and it's just one of those things that just leaves you speechless."

The Bitterroot Hotshots have worked with the Arizona crew on fires in the past.

"We tend to know a good majority of the people in the fire community," said Bitterroot Hotshots superintendent Jay Wood, "because there's not that many of us."

The Hotshots NBC Montana talked with said they didn't know the Arizona crew well. But in the firefighting business, everybody's family.

"We just came back from Arizona an they were on a fire we were assigned to down there," said Hotshot Cache Gibbons. The Montana crew's assistant superintendent said it's a heavy day.

It is pretty sombering, said Chris Bolz, "this really is a dangerous job and it can happen to any of us at anytime."