ALL NEWS

As more than 200 fires burn in Alaska, an all-women’s fire crew is headed there to help

Jul 23, 2019, 6:20 AM | Updated: 6:21 am
The Women's Fire Crew is trained and ready to ship out to wherever they are needed....
The Women's Fire Crew is trained and ready to ship out to wherever they are needed.

(CNN) — Eight brave women traveled from Wyoming to Alaska this week to battle a wildland fire raging in region.

This is the first assignment of the year for the Bureau of Land Management Women’s Fire Crew.

There are currently more than 200 active fires in Alaska, so the Women’s Fire Crew headed off to The Last Frontier.

The crew will be in the Upper Yukon of the state for the next 14 days, helping to fight the Hadweenzic River Fire.

Getting into fire

This program, founded in 2016, is a collaboration between the BLM in Wyoming and the Montana Conservation Corps.

Any women can apply to the crew and recruits come from far and wide. Many have experience in wildlife conservation but limited fire training.

Toni Hardy decided to apply to the program because her dad was firefighter.

“I was going into the season a little nervous but ended up tackling challenges and am excited to overcome the unknown in Alaska,” Hardy said on Facebook.

Lauren Formiller served five years in the US Marine Corps. She thought fighting fires would be a natural fit as she transitioned back to civilian life.

“Firefighting is the challenge I was looking for,” Formiller said on Facebook. “My goal is to get on a crew next season after this experience.”

The Women’s Fire Crew is just a year-long program, but participants often go on to join federal crews across the country.

More women on crews

The Women’s Fire Crew is a just a year-long program, but participants often go on to join federal crews across the country.

The US Forest Service employs approximately 10,000 wildland fire fighters. This includes hand crews, Interagency Hotshot Crews and engine crews.

Wildland firefighters work long hours in often challenging conditions.

There are women on other federal fire crews, according to BLM Public Information Officer Samantha Storms, but there are not nearly as many women as men.

This program hopes to change that.

In 2017, the first year the program was implemented, 17 of the 18 crew members received wildland fire jobs at the end of their term.

“Most of the women are interested in this crew as a stepping stone,” Storms told CNN.

Prepping for Alaska

The Women’s Fire Crew goes through a two-week fire training known as “rookie school,” according to Rance Neighbors, assistant fire management officer with BLM.

The women are then sent wherever they are needed most.

“This crew is trained and available to help nationally, wherever the need is,” Neighbors told CNN.

Right now the need is in Alaska, so the Women’s Fire Crew and others have headed up there to help.

“To be able to come to Alaska for your first ever fire assignment is just so incredible,” said crew leader Shelby Descamps on Facebook.

The Women’s Fire Crew traveled by plane, boat and helicopter to get the Upper Yukon on the eastern side of the state.

“A perk to Alaska is a helicopter flight! I am glad to have an opportunity to push myself, this will be trial by fire, literally,” said crew member Tess Jarden on Facebook.

Jarden, Formiller, Descamps and Hardy are joined by fellow crew members Alex Perez, Patty Derner, Leah Katz and Hannah Zamorski.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

An officer-involved shooting on Jan. 29, 2023 sent a suspect to the hospital via Life-Flight. (Phot...
Amie Schaeffer

Officer-involved shooting in Iron County

A suspect in an Iron County officer-involved shooting Sunday evening sent the suspect to the hospital via Life Flight.
9 hours ago
NEWPORT NEWS, VA - JANUARY 07: Tall pine trees outside Richneck Elementary School on January 7, 202...
Brian Todd, Hannah Sarisohn, Nicole Grether and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

District reassigns principal of Virginia school where boy, 6, allegedly shot teacher, spokesperson says

The principal of Richneck Elementary School in Virginia has been reassigned within Newport News Public Schools.
9 hours ago
A cold snap brings sub-freezing temps to northern Utah. (KSL-TV)...
Randall Jepson

Frigid temperatures delaying some school start times

A frigid cold snap is causing in some schools in northern Utah to delay their start times. Utah State will also have a delayed start.
9 hours ago
Authorities in Grants Pass, Oregon are advising women to be on the lookout for a fugitive accused o...
Andy Rose and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Man suspected of kidnapping and beating a woman in Oregon may be using dating apps to evade police

Originally Published: 29 JAN 23 12:31 ET Updated: 29 JAN 23 21:20 ET     (CNN) — Authorities in southwestern Oregon are warning that a man suspected of kidnapping a woman and beating her unconscious may now be using dating apps to evade capture or find potential new victims, according to police. The suspect, 36-year-old Benjamin Obadiah […]
9 hours ago
utah snow days...
Devin Oldroyd

Weather causing delayed starts for several schools across Utah

Due to weather, many schools across the state are on two-hour delayed starts Monday, Jan. 30.
1 day ago
Suspected arsonist appears on surveillance footage lighting Molotov cocktail in front of Temple Ner...
Celina Tebor, Isa Kaufman-Geballe and Zoe Sottile, CNN

Man throws Molotov cocktail at New Jersey synagogue in arson attempt, police say

A man threw a Molotov cocktail at a New Jersey synagogue in an arson attempt on Sunday morning, police and the synagogue said.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
As more than 200 fires burn in Alaska, an all-women’s fire crew is headed there to help