The Inyo Hotshot Crew was founded in the spring of 1974 and was based at the Mammoth Ranger District, Inyo National Forest. Originally, the crew was named “Mammoth Hotshots,” but this was quickly changed to “Inyo” in order to encompass a total forest concept of support and participation. The word “Inyo” is Paiute, and means “dwelling place of a Great Spirit.” The crew logo was a drawing of a mountain man crossing a stream in the Sierras.
Starting a crew from scratch was a tremendous challenge, and coming in contact with well established crews, such as Mark Linane’s Los Prietos Hotshots, and Charlie Caldwell’s Redding Hotshots, was initially intimidating, but we learned a lot from these folks and just as importantly, we earned the respect of the other Hotshot Crews by the end of the 1975 season.
In 1976 we acquired an Air Force surplus 1967 International 29-passenger bus. Hard to believe, but that bus became the envy (only a slight exaggeration) of the Region. Due to donated time and labor by the crew, the bus was installed with reclining aircraft seats, refrigerator, sound system, tool bin, painted and lettered for the start of the ’76 season.
Each season saw improvements and by the ’76 season we had obtained IR status, which is something we were quite proud of…
While fighting fire on the Cleveland at the end of August 1978 we were informed that our crew and several others were being disbanded due to budget. After a near riot of angry crews in camp the last night, we left the next morning saying our good-byes to our comrades as we rode out in that ol’ bus blazing the “Star Wars” theme on our speakers.
The Foremen were Lance Heister (1974-1978), Rick McCool (1974), and Dan Whitmore (1975-1978). Tim McMullen was the Superintendent (1974-1978).
I’m quite proud of what we accomplished in such a short period of time, and the respect we received from our peers speaks for itself. In preparing this short bio, I looked back on crew records, and I was reminded of why I originally chose to do what I do – and I hope to carry that spirit until retirement and not get bogged down in superficial or meaningless work programs and politics we are sometimes faced with…
Superintendent – Inyo Hotshots