First North Dakota crew returns home from battling Oregon blaze

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 4:00 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - After an 18-day mission in Oregon, the first fire crew from the North Dakota Forest Services returned home Monday night.

The six man crew worked for nearly three weeks; laying hoses, digging lines and trying to control the direction of the fire.

They say the 170,000 acre fire was the largest any of their crew members have ever fought before.

Axes used to fight flames are unpacked from their truck.

“We just got thrown in wherever they needed us. We hopped in and did it,” said Hunter Noor, crew lead for the North Dakota Forest Service.

Dirt still stains the metal from picking away at the debris.

“We ended up clearing out a bunch of trees,” said Noor.

Hoses hang out to dry, after pumping water to critical areas.

“Here’s one of the hose lays that we did. You can see it was prepped by a hand crew,” said Noor.

They saw the devastation that swept through Oregon, taking out entire communities.

“When a fire goes through, it’s all black. All the trees are black and it’s kind of barren,” said Noor.

After 18 days of battling, the crew was sent home. The Holiday Farm fire is now 50% contained.

“We left with pretty good progress. I was happy with it. Hopefully, they continue the good work out there and get it 100% contained,” said Noor.

A few states away, other crew members were assisting in Colorado.

“Right here, the helicopter was coming in, and we directed them because there was some hot stuff on the inside of this line,” said Zach Gappa, squad boss for the North Dakota Forest Service.

As they clean the dirt and ash from their equipment, they are gearing up for the next call.

“It’s a big anticipation of where and what kind of country and I’m to see now. It’s a big guessing game, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Gappa.

Not knowing where nature’s fury will take them next.

Now that the firefighters have returned home, they will get a few days of rest before their names are put back on the board for service.

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