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Guardians prevent wildfire in Manitou Springs

people posing at top of Manitou Incline

Off-duty U.S. Space Force Guardians assigned to Space Delta 6 – Cyberspace Operations, pose for a photo at the top of the Manitou Incline, Colorado, after extinguishing a wildfire on Nov. 9, 2022. The personnel responsible for containing the fire include Capt. Justin Ditter, 60th Combat Training Squadron weapons and tactics flight commander; 1st Lt. Nathaniel Akers, 60th CTS training flight commander; Master Sgt. Kristopher Chesslo, 68th Cyberspace Squadron operations superintendent; Tech. Sgt. John Mendoza, 60th CTS flight chief; Sgt. Dominick Cuervo, 60th CTS instructor; Sgt. Daniel Shanks, 60th CTS instructor; Sgt. Kavion Wee, 60th CTS registrar; and Ashley Anacker, 10th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron secretary. (Courtesy photo)

people putting out fire

Off-duty U.S. Space Force Guardians assigned to Space Delta 6 – Cyberspace Operations, work together to stop the spread of a wildfire near the Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado, Nov. 9, 2022. The hikers were in Manitou for a morale event when they noticed the smoke and decided to intervene. (Courtesy photo)

firefighters at Manitou Incline

Off-duty U.S. Space Force Guardians assigned to Space Delta 6 – Cyberspace Operations, guide first responders to the scene of a fire at the Manitou Incline, Colorado, Nov. 9, 2022. The Guardians worked with other hikers to contain a wildfire for nearly an hour before first responders arrived. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Off-duty U.S. Space Force Guardians assigned to Space Delta 6 – Cyberspace Operations, worked together to stop the spread of a wildfire near the Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado, Nov. 9, 2022.

“We were originally at the Manitou Incline for a morale event,” said 1st Lt. Nathaniel Akers, 60th Combat Training Squadron flight commander. “We planned to hike to the top to host an informal reenlistment ceremony for Master Sgt. Matthew Anacker.”

When the hikers noticed smoke around step 1,000, they thought it may be a controlled burn. Upon closer inspection they realized it was the beginning of a wildfire.

“[Capt. Justin Ditter] ran into the woods first, followed by [Sgt. Dominic Quervo] and myself,” explained Akers. “When we first came upon the fire it covered about 10 square feet. It grew to cover over 20 square feet by the time the first responders arrived.”

Utilizing what they had, the Guardians wrapped their shirts around their mouths to avoid inhaling smoke before working to contain the fire using water bottles and sports drinks.

Akers explained how the team established a supply line from the main hiking path to the fire. A runner would grab bottles of water from hikers near the trail and deliver them to be distributed at the sight of the burn.

“It quickly became evident that we did not have enough liquids,” said Master Sgt. Matthew Anacker, 68th Cyberspace Squadron flight chief. “We started using sticks, rocks and our bare hands to throw dirt on the fire to smother it.”

The team of Guardians contained the fire for nearly an hour before first responders arrived. Local fire officials expressed their gratitude and stated that the outcome could have been disastrous had the hikers not intervened.

Once it was confirmed the fire was out, the Delta 6 personnel continued their hike to the top of the incline to celebrate and complete the reenlistment ceremony.

“There was a huge sense of excitement,” said Akers. “When it comes to a team building exercise, you can’t really beat putting out a potential wildfire.”