West Yellowstone smokejumper injured parachuting into New Mexico fire | State &


A logo for the West Yellowstone Smokejumpers is seen inside the base.

A West Yellowstone smokejumper was critically injured on Tuesday following a hard landing while responding to the Eicks fire in New Mexico’s Hidalgo County.

Tim Hart, of Cody, Wyoming, was flown via air ambulance to a hospital in El Paso after parachuting into rocky terrain, according to the Custer Gallatin National Forest. He is a three-year veteran of the Montana-based crew.

“The Forest Service’s first priority is to provide for him and his family right now,” said Marna Daley, forest spokeswoman. “We are working with the smokejumper and firefighter community to make sure those needs are being met.”

The fire is burning on private land in the Animas Mountains of southeastern New Mexico, just north of the Mexico border. The fire was reported to be burning in grass and brush on Monday and has grown to 720 acres in rugged terrain along the Continental Divide. No structures are currently threatened. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The West Yellowstone crew is a national resource, meaning it responds to fires burning across the nation. Other personnel responding to the fire include New Mexico Forest Division and Bureau of Land Management ground crews aided by aircraft.

The injury comes in the wake of predictions of another big fire season across the West, with fires already blackening parts of North Dakota and Alberta, Canada. Last year, more than 10 million acres and almost 18,000 houses burned. This year’s prognostications prompted U.S. officials to announce they would more aggressively respond to small fires this year in an attempt to minimize the number of larger blazes.

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