A view of the White Draw fire’s Incident Command Post from Charlotte, NC

The C-130 military air tanker that crashed while helping to suppress the White Draw fire near Edgemont, South Dakota on July 1 was based in Charlotte, North Carolina with the state’s National Guard. The Charlotte Observer has been running one or two articles a day about the tragedy, and yesterday columnist Mark Washburn, after visiting Edgemont and the fire’s Incident Command Post, posted a particularly interesting article that you should read. Here is an excerpt:

…I got there on the Fourth of July. Main Street was vacant. I was reading fire advisories posted on the window of the city hall when Tami Habeck, the town’s finance officer, stopped and got out of her car.

“You look sort of lost. Can I help you?” she said.

People out here never got the memo on Stranger Danger. They are friendly beyond measure, even to newspaper reporters.

She directed me to the Fall River County Fairgrounds a few blocks away. It is there a brigade of nearly 400 firefighters drawn from as far away as Michigan are based to battle the White Draw Fire, which has consumed 9,000 acres of parched prairie and pine and imperiled Craven Canyon.

I wasn’t there long when Edgemont Mayor Jim Turner pulled in. He’d already heard I was in his town of nearly 800, where news travels fast.

He said he’d already sent a letter to the Observer hoping it would be printed to express condolences on behalf of the citizens of Edgemont for the fallen airmen from the 145th Airlift Wing of the N.C. National Guard.

“Please tell people back there how terribly sorry we all are,” he said. “It was a heroic act for those guys for a community and people they don’t even know.”

A comment that Katy Kassian left at the bottom of the article on the newspaper’s site is not really about the fire, but it’s about Edgemont:

We have been to Edgemont many times. I agree.Incredibly friendly…The first time we were there it was a fluke. We stopped to eat at the bar/cafe downtown. Next thing you know it’s sun up and hubby’s still chatting with the ‘guys’. We made it a point to go there to ‘get away’ when we needed a break. We also were part of BIkers and Bulls. What a great time the city put on! The Hog Catch was definately a highlight and still much talked about!

Thanks Edgemont!

Thanks go out to Jim

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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