National Wildlife Refuge System

Firefighters on the Rim

More than 150 trained firefighters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been battling the Rim Fire in California and other wildfires in the west.
Credit: USFWS
NBC reporter Miguel Almaguer prepares to report from the Beaver Creek fire in Idaho.
Credit: USFWS

More than 150 trained firefighters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, many normally stationed at national wildlife refuges, have been battling the Rim Fire in California, the Battle Creek Fire in Utah and fires in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Washington as well.
When a wildfire happens, trained professionals from federal and state agencies join forces on firefighting teams. They work as firefighters and as specialists in law enforcement, forestry, safety and operations, and communications.
Glen Stratton, lead for the USFWS Northeast fire program, is serving as fire operations chief on the Rim Fire. As of August 30, that huge fire had burned 300 square miles near Yosemite National Park and destroyed more than 100 structures. It also poses a threat to San Francisco’s water supply. Nearly 3,700 firefighters are on the ground fighting the fire, the biggest on record in California’s Sierra Nevada.
Stratton described the fire’s elusive behavior: “We can’t be directly at the fire’s edge…we’ve got to let the fire come to us.”

Beaver Creek Fire, Idaho
Lori Iverson is usually responsible for visitor services at National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, but she maintains her firefighter qualifications and became a fire information officer at the Beaver Creek fire nearly Hailey, Idaho. For awhile, western Wyoming was at a high preparedness level for fire risk because of that fire.  She responded with four other members of the Teton Interagency Fire program, which includes representatives from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.

Iverson posted fire updates and evacuation announcements on Facebook. She also escorted national reporters to areas closed to the public, including NBC correspondent Miguel Almaguer.  More than 1,000 people worked the Beaver Creek fire, including those from the Teton Interagency Fire program.  “It’s always helpful to have people from your home area on an incident with you,” explained Chip Collins, who serves on the Great Basin National Incident Management Team that responded to the fire. “You know each other’s strengths, you already have cohesion, and you have the support of one another when you need it, both on the incident and when you’re back at home.”



More on fire in the USFWS Northeast Region blog.

Video: what happens to animals during a wildfire?

Last updated: September 3, 2013