A group of Mormon farmers from Idaho left their fields and put their irrigation know-how to work Friday at the edge of a raging forest fire in Yellowstone National Park.
About 50 farmers from Ashton, Idaho, were joined by a few businessmen and school teachers from that farming community to volunteer their time and equipment near this town at Yellowstone's western boundary.They hoped to wet down the tinder-dry forest floor between town and the North Fork fire, which Friday afternoon was crackling in the lodgepole pines just over 1 mile from the edge of West Yellowstone.
The group was organized by local ward leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Frank Clark, one of the volunteers.
"We shut our grain combine down to come up here," said Clark, 35, as he and a dozen other men wrestled a diesel pump off a trailer Friday morning.
Despite losses the farmers will suffer from being away from their farms at harvest time, Clark said the sacrifice is worth it.
"It's never a hardship to help out," he said.
The group hoped to lay 2 miles of irrigation pipeline between the town and the fire. They planned to pump water from the Madison River.
Their efforts were welcomed by the U.S. Forest Service, which is strapped for resources as it fights six major fires that have scorched more than a half-million acres of the 2.2 million-acre park.
"Well thought-out, coordinated efforts are certainly a help to us in trying to contain this fire,` said Brian Morris, a fire information officer.