By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A Cody native has lost his life while fighting a fire in New Mexico.
The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday that Tim Hart, a forest service smokejumper stationed in West Yellowstone, Montana, died from injuries sustained while responding to a fire in Hildago County, New Mexico.
“Our hearts go out to Tim’s family, loved ones, friends, fellow Forest Service employees, and the entire wildland fire community,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “I ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow, while respecting the family’s privacy.”
According to the U.S. Forest Service, smokejumpers are wildland firefighters who parachute in to fire locations. They typically respond to isolated and remote fire locations where there are few roads or trails because they can reach the fire more quickly than other firefighting teams.
The fire Hart was working on was a 720-acre fire in very rugged, rocky terrain along the Continental Divide in the Animas Mountains of New Mexico. According to a spokesperson for the Custer Gallatin National Forest, Hart suffered a “hard fall,” the cause of which is still under investigation.
Hart was a member of the West Yellowstone Smokejumpers, which was established in 1951 and is currently staffed with an average of 27-30 smokejumpers. Hart joined the squad in 2019, but had been a wildland firefighter for over a decade.
He joined the Shoshone National Forest as a lead forestry technician in 2009 and in 2010 he was assigned to the Asheville Interagency Hotshot Crew in North Carolina as a lead firefighter.
Hart also worked for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on the Ruby Mountain Hotshot Crew in Nevada.
Hart joined the smokejumper program in 2016 and relocated to Grangeville, Idaho, as a rookie. In 2019 his wildland firefighter journey took him to West Yellowstone, Montana, as a smokejumper squad leader and in 2020 as a spotter.
Information on any planned memorial service is not yet available.