Utah wildfire crew gets highest certification
Published: June 15, 2014 02:24PM
Updated: June 15, 2014 02:24PM
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The sun is obscured by smoke from the Seeley Fire on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, burning in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. (AP Photo/Paul Fraughton, The Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah has a new elite wildfire-fighting crew, and they’re already battling a wildfire.

The Alta Handcrew is now certified as a Type 1 or “Hotshot” crew, meaning they have the highest certification to fight wildfires. The team of 20 underwent its final national review in Ogden two weeks ago, the last step in a four-year journey to the certification. The designation was finalized Friday.

The same day, the newly renamed Alta Hotshots received their first assignment: the Cow Hollow Fire in Duchesne County. The lightning-sparked fire has grown to 60 acres by Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Hotshot crews are typically deployed when the terrain, fire behavior or the remoteness require special expertise.

The Alta Hotshots makes the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands the only state agency in the country that sponsors two Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC). The other is the Lone Peak Hotshot Crew.

While they are members of the state agency, both the Alta and Lone Peak Hotshot Crews can be deployed to fight fires nationwide, said Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda