SCOTIA: Wildland fire crew heads west

As wildland fires continue to roar a destructive path across parts of Montana, local forest rangers and trained incident management volunteers have shipped out to help battle the blazes.

A 20-person state wildland firefighting crew departed from Saratoga Springs on Friday, Aug. 10, bound for the Jocko Lakes area.

Among them is Kyle M. Trojan, 18, of Scotia. The Montana trip is his first assignment as a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) emergency volunteer.

He's trained for this kind of situation for years, and this is what he wants to do, said Kyle's mom, Carolyn Trojan. "He was excited to go, and we were happy for him."

Trojan just graduated from a home-schooling program within the Scotia-Glenville district. He has finished firefighters 1 and 2 trainings, is a certified wildland firefighter, and recently became an emergency medical technician.

"He was put on a stand-by list for an emergency response last fall," said Carolyn Trojan. "I think since he became an EMT, it moved him way up the list."

Go west, young man

Trojan and his squad were dispatched to the Jocko Lakes area of Montana, where fires were started on Aug. 3 by severe thunderstorms and lightning.

With thousands of acres of dry woodlands as timber, the flames raged as winds picked up to fan the fires at 35 miles per hour. High heat and low humidity have been plaguing containment efforts, and squads are hoping for the hot weather to break.

Fire personnel on site are building containment lines to halt the speed of the burn, keeping a watchful eye on power lines, and communicating with residents and schools that have been evacuated. Fire whirls have been reported, which allow the flames to cross creeks and other small waterways in the area. Helicopter drop buckets are being used to douse the flames overhead.

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