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Incident Name:  Montezuma Fire, burning in the Baboquivari Mountain Range, on Tohono O'odham tribal land.
Date: 6/8/2012
Personnel:  Anthony Polk, of Yuma and a member of the Quechan/San Carolos Apache Indian Tribe
Age: 31 on June 22.
Agency/Organization: Bureau of Indian Affairs
Position: Fort Yuma Engine Boss; wildland firefighter

Summary: On June 8, 2012 at approximately 0800 hours, the three Fort Yuma wildland firefighters were in a Type 6 brush fire truck on Tohono O'odham Reservation Indian Route (IR-19), near mile post 22, en route to the Montezuma Fire, when the vehicle rolled over. Engine Boss Anthony Polk died at the scene. The two other firefighters were injured, taken to a nearby hospital, and later released. One of the firefighters was readmitted to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries that night. A Serious Accident Investigation Team is investigating and a Critical Incident Management Team are working with firefighters.

Photo Credits:
Photo of Fire by Charlie Armiger (Inciweb); Photo of Anthony (2010) from the Fort Yuma Agency

Montezuma Fire Montezuma Fire
Anthony Polk Anthony Polk

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Montezuma Fire burning in the Baboquivari Mountain Range, on tribal land, about 20 mi SE of Sells, AZ, SW of Tucson.

Montezuma Fire Location: fire origin = 31.781, -111.61 Montezuma Fire Location: fire origin = 31.781, -111.61


Accident Location - Tohono O'odham Reservation Indian Route (IR-19), near mile post 22

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

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Media Articles and Reports

  • Firefighter Assigned to Montezuma Fire Dies in Accident

    6/8/2012 | Online article

    TUCSON - A firefighter assigned to the Montezuma Fire burning southwest of Tucson has died in an accident, officials confirmed. A spokesperson for the Tohono O'odham tribe confirmed a firefighter has died, but could not provide other details at this time. (More at the link..)

  • One firefighter killed, 2 injured in crash while fighting Montezuma Wildfire

    6/8/2012 | Online article

    ...The three firefighters were in a brush fire truck on Federal Route 19, near mile post 22, when the accident occurred, according to Lt. Michael Ford with the Tohono O'odham Police Department. Two of the firefighters were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, and the other died at the scene. Drexel Heights Fire District firefighters lined up along Ajo Highway to salute their fallen comrade while being escorted into Tucson by Department of Public Safety, Department of Forestry, and Avra Valley Fire District personnel... (More at the link..)

  • Yuma firefighter killed in wildland truck rollover

    6/08/2012 | Online article

    A Yuma firefighter died when his wildland fire truck rolled over in rough terrain Friday morning, officials confirmed. The incident happened at about 8 a.m. on Federal Route 19 as the firefighter was traveling to the Montezuma fire located 20 miles southeast of Sells, Ariz. The dead Yuma firefighter was working for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is the agency overseeing the management of the fire. (More at the link...)

  • Authorities identify firefighter killed in Sells-area crash

    6/09/2012 | Online article

    The firefighter who died in a rollover crash Friday while on duty fighting the Montezuma Fire has been identified as Anthony Polk, 31 of Yuma. Polk was in a brush fire truck with two other firefighters, Andy Rosales, 29, and John Villicana, 25, when the truck crashed on Federal Route 19, near milepost 22, authorities said. (More at the link...)

  • Arizona’s flags half-staff for firefighter

    6/9/2012 | Online Article

    Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered all state flags flown at half-staff until sunset today in honor of a firefighter killed en route to the Montezuma Fire in southern Arizona. (More at the link...)

  • Yuma firefighter killed in Tucson identified

    6/9/2012 | Online Article

    The Yuma firefighter ...has been identified as 31-year-old Anthony Polk. Polk was a fire operations and fuels technician for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Fort Yuma Agency. He was a wildland fire engine boss during his final assignment. {More at the link...)

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Mourning the loss of fallen firefighter, lowering flags in his honor

    6/9/2012 | Statement by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

    “Today, we mourn the loss of the first wildland firefighter killed in Arizona this season. Anthony Polk, an Engine Boss from Yuma, lost his life Friday when his brush fire engine rolled over while en route to the Montezuma Fire in southern Arizona. Polk, 31, was part of a Bureau of Indian Affairs Engine Crew. Two of his fellow firefighters were injured in the same accident, but – thankfully – it appears that they will recover.

    “In Arizona, Spring and Summer mean wildfire. We count on the brave men and women who come to our State from all over the country in order to fight these fires. These are men and women who endure the long hours, difficult conditions and – of course – the danger. Men and women like Anthony Polk. Best of all, they do it in order to protect the lives and property of people they have never met and likely never will.

    “Please keep Anthony Polk, his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. And remember his brothers and sisters still working the Montezuma Fire and other blazes. Grueling days lay ahead in a fire season not nearly over.

    “In honor of Anthony Polk and his service and sacrifice to the State of Arizona, I have ordered that all State flags be flown at half-staff until sunset today, June 9, 2012.”

  • Obituary:

    Anthony Ramon Polk (Morning Dancer, Two Feathers, Ant Dog) was born June 22, 1981 and passed away while on duty as a Wildland Firefighter on June 8, 2012.

    He is preceded in death by his uncles Leroy Polk Sr., Raphael Polk Jr.; grandfathers, Raphael Polk Sr., Manuel Martinez; grandmother, Vicenta Villa; aunts, Victoria Martin, Angelita Lang, Nancy Triste, and Cecilia Polk.

    Anthony is survived by his five year old daughter, parents, Ramona and Benjamin Villa; brothers, Manuel and Alejandro Villa; sister, Raquiel Villa; grandmother, Lucinda Escalanti Polk; grandfather, Vernon Smith; uncles, Damon Polk, Frank, Jimmy, Tony, Benny, Richard, Bobby and Raymond Villa; aunts, Hortense, Lucia, Yolanda, and Delores Polk, Terry Acuna, Ida and Virgina Villa and numerous cousins and relatives. He is from the Polk, Carr, Sahenti, Pasqual and Escalanti families.

    He was a Fire Operations and Fuel Technician for the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Fort Yuma Agency. He was a Wildland Fire Engine Boss during his final assignment. He graduated from San Pasqual High School in Winterhaven, California. He lived in the Yuma area surrounded by an extensive family. He attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, and was later employed at Fort Yuma Indian Health Service and attended the Fort Yuma Academy for Firefighters.

    He was a member of the San Carlos Apache and Quechan Tribes. In his youth he participated in many Native American ceremonies as a singer with the Winterhawk Tail Family Drum group and was a Northern Traditional and Grass Dancer.

    He loved playing basketball, football, running track and boxing. He received many medals in sports. His passion was cooking and fishing.

    He was a loving father and loved his daughter.

    He will always be remembered by his smile and forever in our hearts. We love you Anthony!

    Services will be held at the Yuma Mortuary on Friday June 15, at 3:00pm, officiated by Father Monahan. Quechan Tribal Rites will follow at the Quechan Big House.

    In his honor a run will follow the services from Yuma Mortuary to the Quechan Big House. All runners are welcome to participate.

    A fund for donations has been set up at AEA Federal Credit Union under Ramona Villa! Anthony Polk, account number 1613510-010.

  • Anthony and his daughter, photo compliments of the Fort Yuma Agency.

    Anthony Polk & daughter Aiyana Anthony Polk & daughter Aiyana

  • USFA Memorial Database: Anthony Polk

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Contributors to this article: TFDFF, Azfirefighter, Kathy Sieloff, Burk@ WFF, Lorena B. Moore, Dan, ScottVB


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