Published June 30, 2016
SHOWLOW, ARIZONA – The Office of the President and Vice President received information Wednesday, June 29, of Navajo Nation Hotshot Crew incident at the Cedar Creek fire, Showlow, Arizona.
During a meeting with Bureau of Indian Affairs Fire & Aviation Management team, Navajo Nation Natural Resources Department and BIA Director Sharon Pinto regarding explanation of stages of Fire Restrictions. This meeting was incited due to numerous inquiries flooding OPVP regarding the issuance of a Fire Restriction for the Navajo Nation.
After discussion on the need NOT to issue a Fire Restriction based on data, weather trend and other fire management resource statistic, Director Pinto informed OPVP staff members of the Navajo Hotshot crew working the Cedar Creek Fire.
The Navajo Hotshot Crew, is a crew of 20 members from the Navajo Nation, of the 20, 6 had to deploy their fire shelters. This comes on the three day, three-year eve of the Prescott fire that claimed the lives of 19 Yarnell Hotshot crewmembers.
“A shelter deployment is considered a serious incident in the wildland firefighting community,” stated BIA Director Sharon Pinto. “Our 6 members who deployed their fire shelters called us 15 minutes after deployment, they were safe. They were being treated for smoke inhalation and we will send them home to their families,” Pinto informed OPVP staff.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye stated, “our Navajo Nation Hotshot crew June 21, place their lives in harms way to protect our mother earth and people who reside in the path of the Cedar Creek Fire. We commend all 20 members and thank God for protecting the 6 members who walked way with their lives.”
Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said, “We continue to pray for all firefighters who place their lives in harms way and we are especially thankful that 6 of our own will return home to their families.”
He encouraged tribal members to be aware of the dangers of fire during the height of summer heat wave and to practice fire prevention.
“During this Fourth of July holiday, please be aware that fireworks are prohibited on the Navajo Nation. The only exceptions are permitted events at designated locations,” Vice President Nez said. “Random gunfire is also illegal and punishable by law.”
“Due to current natural elements including the level of precipitation the Navajo Nation is not issuing a fire restriction at this time, however everyone should practice safe fire management at all times,” stated Natural Resource Division Director Bidtah Becker.