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PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION As of early evening of Labor Day, it was been reported that 27 percent of the Wellnitz North fire has been contained with the continuation of suppression efforts still ongoing.
Wellnitz North fire on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Regular updates on the status of the Wellnitz North fire will continue to be given over the KILI Radio Station until such time that the Incident Command System can be concluded.
On Sunday evening, President John Yellow Bird Steele of the Oglala Sioux Tribe signed the Delegation of Authority agreement authorizing the Type 2 Strike Team from Colorado, known as the Rocky Mountain Area Team, to assist in the management of the Wellnitz North fire on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to allow the local fire units to get much needed rest.
“On behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, I would like to say how proud I am of our fire fighters for their brave and courageous actions taken in protecting our tribal homelands and minimizing the destruction of homes in the past couple of days. I have signed a Delegation of Authority authorizing the Colorado fire team to help us continue efforts to contain this fire as I am concerned about taking care of our fire fighters and team leaders who have been out there in the field since Friday,”
stated President John Yellow Bird Steele.
The Tribal President's Office and Pine Ridge BIA Officials were on hand Labor Day at 8:00 am in the Pine Ridge BIA Fire Hall to witness the first briefing meeting of the Rocky Mountain Area Team of Colorado and to thank the local fire team for all their great work as well as to welcome the team as they prepared to go out in the field to begin suppression efforts on the Wellnitz North fire currently still flaring in the Slim Buttes area.
Later on in the morning, Todd Richardson, Incident Commander for the Rocky Mountain Area Team, visited the Tribal Incident Command Center set up in the Tribal President's Office and met with Wayne Weston, Tribal Emergency Manager and Donna Salomon, Public Relations Coordinator for President John Yellow Bird Steele. They discussed the processing of the incident command system established by the Tribe in dealing with the fire utilizing the various maps developed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe's Department of Public Safety which guided decision making on fire assessments and evacuations of tribal membership to safety.
Caution: No Travel on the Burned Areas which are Still at Risk Fire fires
During his visit to the Tribal President's Office, Mr. Richardson gave an interview to a local television station. During the interview, he stated,
the big concern with that fast moving fire was, were we even going to be able to get there in time to help folks cause these guys are all real tired Once we found out that the fire had rolled up into South Dakota and it was significant and a lot of these folks were engaged heavily we had to decide how we could help meet the needs of both what was happening in South Dakota meanwhile what was happening in Nebraska what they really wanted was some relief as soon as we could get people to come in cause folks were tired plus you guys have responsibility to your people here. We're trying to get to the point where we kind of wrap our hands around the whole fire so that we don't leave anything behind that's going to be a problematic area for the folks around here and we think by Wednesday, the talk is that we might be turning things back to the local unit and head out of here, and hopefully not leave a mess behind.
The Tribal Incident Command Center has been moved this afternoon to the Tribal Executive Director's Office in the Tribal Administrative Building in preparation for regular work hours to resume tomorrow in the Tribal President's Office.
The Tribal Incident Command Safety Officer, Pat Swallow, strongly advises that air space on the reservation is closed to all private planes until further notice due to the emergency air craft needing this space to help combat the Wellnitz North fire. The Tribe continues to also caution no travel on the burned areas as those areas are still at risk and fires can be reignited by the friction caused by vehicles moving over those areas.
posted September 4, 2012 7:50 am edt