Spearfish firefighters lend their talents to neighboring states

They’ve battled blazes throughout the West from California to Montana and Colorado.
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 4:49 PM CDT
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BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KOTA) - As fires rage across the Western United States, you might think the only impact for South Dakotans is the smokey air when in reality it hits closer to home. Our station connected with a crew currently fighting the 5th largest Colorado fire in recorded history, the Cameron Peak Fire.

For local firefighters, it’s been a quiet fire season in the Black Hills so far.

But for firefighters from Spearfish, it’s been a hectic two months battling blazes throughout the West from California to Montana and Colorado.

“It’s been a busy summer," said Heath Brown, Spearfish Engine 612 Captain. "We’ve spent over 50 days out fighting fires all over the country and so our season is slowly winding down but we’ve been out on this fire for about a week and we’re just trying to do our help.”

More than 32,000 firefighters and support personnel are working 78 western fires. Six of them from the Black Hills.

“For us, it is our job," said Brown. "We all love doing what we do, there’s that sense of reward in being outside, working hard, and a sense of accomplishment when we can slow the forward progression of fires.”

Brown and the two firefighters in his crew have experienced blazes across the country, but 2020 feels different.

“Our crew has been established for about four years and we go all over the country, so we’ve seen lots and lots of different fire behavior. The fire behavior we’re seeing this summer and the way it’s being managed," said Brown. "I would say this year will be one for the books as far as historic fire behavior.”

And so far, South Dakota has been spared as local firefighters lend their talents to help neighboring states.

“We’ve been out digging fire line, cutting down trees, putting out hotspots, just doing everything we can to control the fire and that’s usually what we do," said Brown. "We just work as a team you know to protect these communities and get these fires out so people can come back home and have a home to come back to.”

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