USFS seeks help solving theft of $45K in equipment from Wash. hotshots
Officials said failure to recover the equipment will impact firefighting efforts in the 2021 fire season
Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon, Wash.
WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The U.S. Forest Service is asking for information regarding a theft of equipment from the Koma Kulshan Guard Station near the south end of Baker Lake.
Sometime during the weekend of Dec. 18-21, the station was broken into and equipment valued at $45,000 was stolen, according to a news release.
That equipment was used by the Baker River Hotshots, a specialized wildfire-fighting team.
The team, comprised of about 20 firefighters, goes to the highest priority fires and tackles the hottest-burning areas — earning it the "hotshot" title.
In 2020, the Baker River Hotshots helped fight several fires in the state, including in Whatcom County in April, in the Columbia River Basin in July, in Olympic National Park in August, and on land of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in September, according to the team's social media posts.
The crew also traveled in 2020 to Alaska and Colorado, and at least one of its members went to Australia to provide aid.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Ranger District spokesperson Colton Whitworth said the team will not be able to do its critical firefighting work during the 2021 season without the stolen gear being returned or replaced.
"The Baker River Hotshots will be needed this season and they won't be able to do their jobs successfully and safely without the proper equipment," he said.
Information on the theft can be reported by email to SM.FS.firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone to 360-856-5700, or to law enforcement.
Skagit County Undersheriff Chad Clark said the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office is investigating because the station is over the county line.
The Skagit County Sheriff's Office, though, did recover some of the missing equipment Dec. 27, when an ATV and trailer were found abandoned at locations in and near Concrete, Clark said.
(c)2021 the Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.)
The United States Forest Service is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying suspects involved with the theft...Posted by Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - US Forest Service on Friday, January 29, 2021