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Small Blaze, Big Loss: Wildfire Warrior Cut Down en Route to Quench Montezuma Flames

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Anthony Ramon Polk would have been 31 on June 22. But the firefighter, who was working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), walked on June 8 while on assignment at the Montezuma Fire in the Baboquivari Mountains west of Tucson, Arizona.

He was involved in a single vehicle rollover, but was the only passenger who walked on. The driver and other passenger were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

“This is a tragic incident that reminds us that firefighters risk their lives every day to protect the public,” said Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. in a press release at the time of the accident, which occurred on Tohono O’odham lands. “The hearts of the Tohono O’odham go out to this individual, his family and friends and to all personnel fighting the Montezuma Fire.”

Polk, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and descendant of the Quechan Tribe of Fort Yuma, Arizona, participated in powwows and traditional ceremonies as a singer and grass dancer. His given names were Two Feathers and Morning Dancer at Sunrise.

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He had served with the BIA at the Fort Yuma Agency for 10 years. Most recently, he was the leader of the Prescribed Fire Operations/Fuels Program.

“Anthony was most known for his outgoing, caring, friendly personality and good sense of humor,” reads a statement from the BIA. “He enjoyed fishing, cooking, and being with family. He devoted all his energy to making his daughter happy.”

Cards can be sent to the Polk Family at 673 Baseline Road, Winterhaven, CA 92283.