MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 25, 2013

A.M. UPDATE: Cherokee Fire Dancers deploy to Oregon


— TAHLEQUAH — A dozen Cherokee Nation Fire Dancers were deployed Tuesday to Oregon to help fight wildfires in Northern California.

The Fire Dancers will work 16-hour days, hiking up to seven miles per day to cut down timber to create fire breaks to help battle the flames.

“It’s a thrill watching a fire as it’s contained and know you’ve helped,” Danny Maritt of Tahlequah who has been a Fire Dancer for 23 years, said in a media release. “We’re glad we’re out there making a difference.”

To qualify as a Cherokee Fire Dancer requires a strength test of carrying 45 pounds while walking three-miles within a 45-minute period. The Fire Dancers also do fire training once a year.

They are called up by the U.S. Forestry Department. The Fire Dancers last mission was Hurricane Sandy cleanup in New Jersey.