Four hotshot crews from the Lower 48 are on their way to Tyonek to help fight the blazes. And while they are physically ready to help out the eight crews already there, the mental part is what they are working on to have some success.
Alaska is a long way from home for the Bitterroot and Flathead Hotshot crews based in Montana, and with the distance from Division of Forestry in Palmer to Tyonek becoming more and more remote, the plan is to make sure they have all the tools they need to fight the fires in the wilderness, something Bitterroot Hotshot veteran Jonathon Fuentes is taking advantage of.
"Usually when you think Alaska, you just think big mountains and grizzly bears," said Fuentes. "You have to prepare a little further in advance for supplies because you tend to spike out quite a bit more."
But its more than just physical with Alaska's wildfires. Just ask Kara Fuhrmeister whose been with the Flathead Hotshots for three years. She's been in the last frontier before. After hot shotting in Interior Alaska back in 2011, Fuhrmeister says in this state you have to take a different approach to fighting the blazes and protecting people.
"It will be a lot more wet but it will burn just like it does in really dry areas down south, its just really cool to see different terrain and what it can do here," said Fuhrmeister. "So we are going to kind of setting up a base and getting after it."
That mentality to conquer has even brought a set of twins into the mix. Eric and Aaron Thorp, who work on the Flathead and Bitterroot crews respectively, will be celebrating their birthday in Tyonek in just a few days. A common bond to protect and put out the flames that these crews hope means their work can help Alaskans come back home.
"Whether it's a 1,000 or 200 we are just here to help, and happy to do what we can," Fuhrmeister said.
The hotshot crews could spend as much as three weeks in Tyonek, depending on conditions. Members of both the 20-man crews say that after their mandatory two days off if the fires are still going, they are more than willing to stick around.
Corey Allen-Young KTUU Channel 2 Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org 744-2642 cell