NORTH FORK — The Tribal Council of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California has expressed its sincere condolences to the families and colleagues of the fallen firefighters from the Ferguson Fire and are calling for others to support the families.
“Our tribe is deeply saddened by these losses,” said Gary Walker of the North Fork Rancheria. “These fire fighters are warriors fighting to protect families and communities and we honor their courage and sacrifice.”
On Sunday, Brian Hughes, a 33-year-old captain from the elite Arrowhead Interagency Hotshot Crew, was struck and killed by a tree while working on tactical firing operation in an area of dense high tree mortality.
Hughes is the second firefighter to die while fighting the fire, following CAL FIRE heavy equipment operator Braden Varney, 36, who was killed after his vehicle overturned earlier this month.
“It’s difficult to overstate the importance fires and firefighting play in the native culture or the deep respect we have for these brave individuals who put everything on the line.”
The Ferguson fire has burned for nearly three weeks in a rough, steep, heavily-wooded wilderness region of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Central California along the western flanks of Yosemite National Park.
The fire has consumed nearly 63,000 acres and is about 40 percent contained. Nearly 3,700 personnel are engaged fighting the fire which, in addition to the two fatalities mentioned above, has resulted in injuries to nine firefighters.
“These wildfires ravage communities and also do great damage to native cultural sites and objects,” Walker said. “Our tribe will do what we can to assist those fighting the fires and their families, and we call on all of the citizens of this great state and nation to do the same to honor and support these heroes."