More than 4,600 firefighters continue to fight the Wallow fire in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. It has become the largest wildfire the state of Arizona has ever seen, spreading across 811 square miles.
Forest Service officials believe the source of the blaze was an unattended campfire on May 29 in a heavily wooded area near the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.
Among the firefighters are a group of women in a unit called the “Apache 8,” which only recently became a co-ed. They are also the subjects of a documentary by the same title from filmmaker Sande Zeig and released by Native American Public Telecommunications.
For 30 years, the Apache 8 protected their reservation from fire and responded to wildfires around the nation. Facing gender stereotypes and the problems that come with life on the impoverished reservation, the women became known as some of the country’s most elite firefighters.
Sande Zeig spoke with Hari Sreenivasan about the film and how the women are involved in containing the Wallow fire.