Seven Bureau of Indian Affairs firefighters from the Osage Agency are currently fighting the Wrangler Fire in Kisatchie Hills Wilderness near Natchitoches, La.
Joe Cheshewalla, Brandon Gillum, Shane Walker, Mike Morehead, James Black, John Hoffer and Kyle Street were flown to Natchitoches to begin work at 7 a.m., Oct. 17.
The firemen will be working 8 to 16 hour days until the fire is out. According to a Wrangler Fire prepared release dated Oct. 20, the wildfire is about 60 percent contained but the wildfire consumed about 3,515 acres, with 259 personnel working on it.
“Firefighting crews are using roads, bayous, trails and natural barriers to contain the fire within the wilderness area,” according to a Wrangler Fire prepared release. “Helicopters and heavy air tankers are vital to the effort and will be utilized to drop water, retardant and provide reconnaissance. Safety of the public and firefighters is of the utmost concern.”
The fire was detected in the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness area on Wednesday, Oct. 13 after thunderstorms with significant lighting occurred in the area on Monday evening, said the release. Fire crews responded and began the initial attack. Extreme fire behavior, coupled with record high drought in Louisiana resulted in the fire growing quickly from one acre to ten acres within hours.
The fire is located approximately 20 miles southwest of Natchitoches.
The seven firefighters will be working to contain the fire within the boundary of the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness and minimize smoke impacts to local communities and Interstate 49, said Bobby Tallchief, director of the Nation’s Emergency Management Department. Fire crews have been dealing with flame lengths of up to five feet.
“Through the efforts of these Osage Agency firefighters and many more from other regions of the United States, no dwellings or structures have been lost to the fire,” Tallchief said.