When being good isn’t enough: Bitterroot Hot Shots prepare for first deployment

Perry Backus

It was 10 years ago when Theresa North — call her ‘T’ — saw her first Hotshot firefighting crew in action.

The upstate New York native was on her first wildfire in Alaska and she was in all kinds of hurt.

“I had never been so tired in my life,” North remembered. “I was miserable. I had a blister on my foot that was so big that people called it the bat cave.”

And then she saw the Bitterroot Hotshots at work.

“I remember looking at them and thinking ‘Oh. What’s that?’ like a total fan girl you know,” North said, with a smile. “Everyone said ‘that’s a Hotshot crew. You don’t know about them?’”

“I didn’t know about anything back then,” North said. “I thought I knew so much. I had just graduated from college but it turned out I knew nothing.”

Fast forward a decade and North now lives a life that neither she nor her family would have ever imagined during her years growing up on the East Coast.

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“My mom now is always like ‘You wore dresses,’” North said, while on her way to join her

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