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Montana's elite pilots among heroes fighting the Ross Moore Lake Wildfire south of Kamloops
American Super Scoopers drop water from Stump Lake, CEO makes Republican bid for U.S. Senate
More than 1,200 km south of Kamloops is the Bozeman-Yellowstone Airport (KBZN) where the largest fleet of Super Scooper planes in the United States is based. Contracted pilots with Belgrade, Montana’s Bridger Aerospace are ‘on ready’ in American ranching country, waiting to be called into action. According to the 10-year-old company’s website, their job is to support front-line firefighters with world-leading technology and aerial fire suppression systems. It’s what’s needed for the huge Ross Moore Lake Wildfire between Merritt and Kamloops. Late last week, Bridger got the call - pulled into action by the B.C. government. Some of the world’s best pilots are now fighting flames in familiar terrain - ranching country in B.C.’s Thompson-Nicola Region.
On Sunday afternoon, the pilots flew like modern cowboys - three in a row, making repeated swoops of Stump Lake before dumping water on the fire lines up the hill. Heroes at work. There’s no other way to describe it. But then again, their top boss and the founder of Bridger Aero is Tim Sheehy, a former navy seal.
While his pilots are in B.C. helping the David Eby government, Sheehy is working on his own fight. The Republican is running in a bid to unseat incumbent Democrat John Tester for a 2024 seat in the U.S. Senate. He recently told Fox News:
From inflation to our border to our deficit, America is ready for change. And I think it’s time for a new generation of leaders to step up. Leaders who understand servant leadership, which is putting the mission before yourself, and leaders who understand how to get results.
Getting results - could that KPI help crews in our province? Probably. Will you see a photo op of Sheehy with a B.C. Cabinet Minister or David Eby? Hard no. Still, none of that matters for the job at hand.
The firefighting efforts may be working. As of Monday afternoon, the rate of growth for the Ross Moore Lake fire had slowed. The size is hard to gauge given the smoke but may be between 1,800 and 2,000 hectares. More than 300 properties in the area have been under an evacuation order. Cooler weather may help but this area is spared the rain seen in other areas of the province.
Bruce Claggett is a 35 year veteran in the news media, having worked as a reporter, newscaster, producer/editor, senior editor, news director, journalism instructor and media consultant. He holds a BA (political science/geography) from UBC, B.Ed. (secondary education) from UBC and a Dipl. T. (broadcast journalism) from BCIT. He continues to work as a guest host on 980/CKNW, media trainer and communications advisor.
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