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SD Hotshot Crew Leading CA Fireline

September 8, 2009, 9:43 PM by Karla Ramaekers

SD Hotshot Crew Leading CA Fireline
Wildfires continue to burn in California. The two-week old blaze has killed two firefighters, destroyed nearly 80 homes and blackened more than 160 acres. Thousands of resources have been called in to help fight the flames, including a specialized crew from South Dakota.

Fire crews continue to work around the clock in California, trying to stop flames from devouring more forest land. South Dakota's Tatanka Hotshot crew is leading the effort.

"Hotshot crews like the Tatanka Hotshots are handline specialists. That means what they specialize in is stopping fires without the use of equipment except for hand tools like power-saws," Frank Carroll with the Black Hills National Forest said.

The 21-person crew is one of only 70 Hotshot groups in the nation.  Carroll says building firelines helps make engine and air crews more effective.

"They're small specialized forces that carry all their own equipment, all their own transportation and so on, so there's really nothing like them," Carroll said.

He says there's also nothing like the experience South Dakota fire crews gain when working in a different environment.

"It's difficult fire ground.  They've had a lot of challenges.  It is good training.  When they come back, they'll be a lot better firefighters than when they went," Carroll said.

Making them all the more prepared to fight future fires here at home.

Currently, the fire is around 60 percent contained; officials hope to have it completely under control by next week.

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