By Miriam Raftery
June 12, 2011 (Alpine, Arizona) -- Four firefighters from the Viejas Tribal Fire Department in Alpine, California, are now in Alpine, Arizona, where they are helping to battle the Wallow Fire. The second largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, the Wallow Fire has charred over 443,989 acres, injured seven people, destroyed 29 homes and threatened thousands more.
“The Viejas fire crew is driving a Brush Engine, designed for fighting wildfires in rugged, remote areas,” said Robert Scheid, Viejas public relations director. “It has 4-wheel drive, holds 280 gallons of water and carries 1,200 feet of hose.”The Viejas fire crew includes two firefighters, one engineer and one Captain. They arrived June 7 in eastern Arizona, joining over 4,311 firefighters and other personnel now fighting the Wallow Fire, which has spread into New Mexico.
Viejas Fire Chief Don Butz has provided ECM with photos of his dedicated crew on the fire lines.
"The Viejas crew has been assigned to night operations performing structure protection and supporting a firing operation (back burning) near the towns of Alpine and Eagar, Arizona," Chief Butz said. The Viejas crew members are Captain Octavio “Henry” Vanzzini, apparatus operator Mark Brinneman, and firefighters Pablo Caballero and Eric Ambiz.
It’s not known how long the Viejas fire crew will remain in Arizona. The Viejas Fire Department is based on the Viejas Indian Reservation in San Diego’s East County and has 24 professionally-trained firefighters. In addition to providing fire protection to the Reservation, they also have agreements to provide fire, medical and emergency services to Alpine and a number East County communities.
The Wallow Fire started on May 29th and containment is currently listed at 10 percent contained as of this evening. The U.S. Forest Service says a number of communities have been evacuated ; fortunately today some evacuees have been allowed to return home, thanks to the dedicated efforts of firefighters from across the U.S. including the Viejas crew members who are helping to battle the blaze.
For the latest updates on the Wallow Fire, see the U.S. Forest Service incident page at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2262/