Indian crews from Oklahoma sent to fight Colorado fires

Thursday, June 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Oklahoma City-AP) -- Firefighting crews from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche and Pawnee tribes in Oklahoma will be helping battle forest fires in Colorado.

The 20-member crews were among those who were airlifted to Colorado last night from Fort Smith, Arkansas. They are expected to spend about two weeks there.

David Carter is fire coordinator in Oklahoma for the U-S Bureau of Indian Affairs. Carter says crews were sent from the Comanche,Cherokee and Choctaw tribes. One crew was made up of three-fourths Pawnee firefighters and one-quarter Arkansas Forestry Commission firefighters.

The fifth crew was made up of Arkansas/Oklahoma Interagency personnel, which include people from national forest services, Arkansas and Oklahoma forestry services, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the B-I-A.

John Burwell is the northeast forester for the Oklahoma Forestry Division of the state Agriculture Department. Burwell says eight to ten agency personnel are helping with fires in New Mexico, Florida, Colorado and South Carolina.

Burwell says most are working as division supervisors, strike team leaders, engine bosses of bulldozer bosses.

And he says eastern Oklahoma is in good shape as far as forest fires. He said some spots in the state are dry, particularly in the Lawton area.