DENVER — Rocky mountain area wildland firefighters are back after two weeks helping fight wildfire in Canada. The 100 U.S. firefighters arrived at Denver International Airport in a Canadian airliner. The group includes the Pike Hotshots based in Monument, Colorado and a Type-2 crew from the San Isabel National Forest in Southern Colorado.
"Extremely dry, everywhere you walk up there, there should be water and there's not," said Pike Hotshot, Brian Hurtuk. The crews worked the Chuckegg Creek Fire in far northern Alberta Canada. The fire size is more than 865,000 acres. There are 23 other fires in the same region.
A year ago, Colorado faced an intense fire season. Firefighters from other states and countries came to help. The water year in Colorado is much better this year, so Colorado based firefighters turned the tables going to Canada to help.
The U.S firefighters are highly trained and have years of experience. Despite their background, they come home with new skills. "Definitely a different animal as far as the fire, the fire behavior and what it responds to, a little bit outside the norm for us," said Hurtuk. Terrain similar to tundra required different techniques. "They use a tactic called hydro-mopping, which they are able to use high pressure hose to spray into the surface of the peat moss they have up there," said San Isabel crew member, Chris Rogers. The firefighters say this is much different than common tactics like burnouts and handlines they commonly use when fighting fire closer to home.
After 14 days in Canada the firefighters are off for 48 hours. They will then go to new assignments.