New York Firefighting Team Returns from Battling 10,900-Acre Wildfires in Montana

Crew of DEC Forest Rangers, Employees and Volunteers Spent Two Weeks Helping to Contain Lolo Creek Complex Wildfires.

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A 20-member New York firefighting crew that traveled to Montana to assist in the containment of the Lolo Creek Complex wildfires returned to New York this morning, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced.

The crew, comprised of DEC forest rangers, employees and volunteers, had been working to contain the 10,900-acre wildfires outside Missoula, Montana for the past two weeks.

"We welcome the return of these brave men and women who have spent the last two weeks helping to contain large wildfires and protect precious natural resources and private homes," Commissioner Martens said. "All New Yorkers should be proud of this crew for demonstrating courage and compassion in assisting others in a time of need, and we are thankful they have returned safely."

The team joined crews from other state in battling the wildfires, which had grown from approximately 3,000 acres to more than 8,500 acres over a three-day period and threatened approximately 1,200 residences. When the New York team arrived there were approximately 80 firefighters and support personnel assigned to the fire, but that number rose to more than 500 as the wildfires spread. The New York team assisted in creating control lines to contain the wildfires, clear materials from the path of the fires and protect residences. During their time, the crew worked in rough terrain and endured daily temperatures that approached 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

All personnel and travel expenses of the New York crew are either paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or are reimbursed to New York based on a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies.

Following their two-week stint, the crew was flown back to Manchester, New Hampshire and rested overnight before boarding buses for their return home this morning.

The New York crew included rangers, employees and volunteers across the state:

  • Forest Ranger William Meehan, Crew Boss, Schuyler County
  • Forest Ranger Kevin Slade, Squad Boss, Suffolk County
  • Forest Ranger Ian Kerr, Squad Boss, Fulton County
  • Forest Ranger William Giraud, Squad Boss, Cortland County
  • Forest Ranger Justin Thaine, Squad Boss Trainee, Allegany County
  • James Canevari, DEC Lands & Forests, Sawyer, St. Lawrence County
  • Donald Nelson, DEC Materials Management, Firefighter, Onondaga County
  • Anthony Leung, DEC Division of Water, Firefighter, Suffolk County
  • Kraig Senter, Volunteer, Firefighter, Cayuga County
  • Matthew Vincent, Volunteer, Firefighter, Essex County
  • Christopher Sprague, DEC Lands & Forests, Sawyer, Chenango County
  • Stephanie Larkin, DEC Fish & Wildlife, Firefighter, Suffolk County
  • Teresa Copa, DEC Citizens Participation Specialist, Firefighter, Suffolk County
  • Tyler Briggs, Albany Pine Bush Preserve, Squad Boss Trainee, Albany County
  • Mark Solan, DEC Pesticides, Firefighter, Saratoga County
  • Steven Brown, DEC Operations, Sawyer, Delaware County
  • Joshua Utberg, DEC Remediation, Firefighter, Schenectady County
  • Eric Kasza, DEC Lands & Forests, Firefighter, Saratoga County
  • Aaron Graves, DEC Lands & Forests, Firefighter, St. Lawrence County
  • Paul Giachetti, DEC Division of Minerals, Firefighter, Monroe County