Three St. Lawrence County DEC employees recently returned from helping to fight the Sunrise Fire in the Lolo National Forest in Montana.
They include forest ranger Corenne Black, James Canevari from DEC Fish and Wildlife and Aaron Graves from DEC Lands and Forests.
A team of firefighters that began their 14-day assignment in western Montana on July 24, and arrived back in New York on Tuesday. The volunteers and DEC staff, including forest rangers, joined crews from other states to help battle the wildfires. When the New York crew arrived, there were approximately 80 firefighters and support personnel assigned to the fire, which soon increased to more than 500 as the wildfire continued to spread, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The team assisted in creating control lines to contain the wildfire, clear materials from the path of the fire and protect the 81 residences that were threatened. The crew worked in rough mountainous terrain and endured daily temperatures hovering close to 90 degrees. Crews worked for two weeks to contain the 13,488-acre wildfire outside Superior, Montana, which is believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike. Currently, the fire is only 15 percent contained and is expected to burn until late September, according to Cuomo’s office.
The second crew dispatched from New York is en route to Montana and could be sent to any of the more than 40 forest fires currently burning in western states.
All personnel and travel expenses for the New York crews are either paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to New York State based on a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies.