Cherokee Fire Dancers On Standby For Oklahoma Grass Fires

Sunday, January 26th 2014, 10:32 pm
By: News On 6

They're usually called on to fight fires in other states.

But the highly-trained Cherokee Nation Fire Dancers are on a mission to help their own because the threat of wildfires in Eastern Oklahoma is just too high to leave.

At any moment Lacey Crawford could be on a bus headed to a wildfire anywhere in America.

The fire dancers usually see action in California, Oregon, Arizona, Montana and Idaho.

Today, Crawford and her fellow teammates are home in Oklahoma.

"And it's the end of January? Things are looking a little bit scary," she said.

Wildfires near Stilwell have the fire dancers knocking down flames in their own backyard.

This is the first time in seven years Jon Overacker has seen the firefighters back in the state.

Jon Overacker, Cherokee Tribal Employment Rights Office, "It is kind of scary, at least we know they're trained very well and they're qualified," Overacker said. "We're sending qualified people to take care of our tribal lands and our other Cherokee citizens who live out in the country and those rural areas."

An early fire season has the 25-person team battling fires in Green Country.

"Whether it be on trust land or public land we're still in the 14-county jurisdiction, they're still relatives, they're still aunts and uncles that they can take care of and make sure they're safe by knowing that they're out there," she said.

Fire dancers normally fight thousand-acre fires and work 16-hour days.

Crawford says Oklahomans need to be careful when burning.

"Our five guys out right now -- they've been saying a lot of people are burning trash in their backyard," she said. "Some people would think it's common sense not to burn on a windy day, but I guess we have to get that message out there… We really are getting into a dry season, and with all the precipitation and moisture we received you can see the grass is brown so be safe."