Xingu Indian Reservation

The Xingu Indian Reservation covers a vast 6,528,530 acres of Cerrado and Amazon forest characteristic of difficult access. The story of the 2017 Aweti Fire does a great job of expressing the hardships encountered in wildland firefighting in remote forested regions as well as reflecting the dedication of the Brigada Aliança cadre and the indigenous wildland firefighters they lead. Words do not adequately convey the sacrifice and esprit de corps of these fine men. Yet, let us attempt to do it justice.

 

On August 17, 2017, Brigada Aliança’s two-man leadership team, based at the Kamayurá village, received a short-wave radio call from a neighboring village, Aweti, concerning a wildfire that was building steam in the forest. According to the chief, a federal wildland firefighting unit had been there but left, and the fire continued. So, leaders Alves and Pereira prepared their nine Kamayurá firefighters to travel 10 miles cross-country by motorcycle and boat to begin operations. When they arrived, they evaluated the situation and determined that the fire was more than three miles in length, spread across a forested terrain. Immediately, the team began building fire lines around the blaze from which to launch fire-control measures. This work was done by hand using hoes, shovels, rakes and blowers. Due to the dense vegetative cover, movement along these fire lines was restricted to foot travel. After three 16-hour days of intense heat, low humidity and high winds, the team managed to control the fire. This operation became an epic tale in the Xingu, generating a huge demand for the Brigada Aliança in the entire Alto Xingu in both direct fire suppression and prescribed burning missions.