In 1974, Region 5 Fire Management added a second Hotshot crew on the San Bernardino National Forest. The location chosen was Vista Grande Guard Station on the San Jacinto Ranger District. Vista Grande is located near the small mountain community of Idyllwild, California.
The name (Spanish for Great View) originated in the 1930’s when this location was a CCC camp. Vista Grande overlooks the Hemet Valley to the west and the Banning Pass to the north. The topography in the area ranges from the desert floors of Palm Springs up 10,000 feet to the San Jacinto Peak.
Kirby More, a veteran firefighter of 20 years, left his position as an engine Foreman at the Alandale Guard Station to become the first Superintendent of this crew in June of 1974. In 1994 Art Torrez became the Superintendent.
The Vista Grande Hotshots have been instrumental in the development and implementation of the Prescribe Burn Program on the San Jacinto Ranger District. This program provides protection from wildland fire for the local mountain communities and enhances wildlife habitat.
The crew has also been involved in International Training Programs since 1985. These programs consist of hosting forestry and firefighter students from various South American countries including Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, and Nicaragua. It is rewarding to pass on important training and safety information about Prescribe Fire as well as Fire Suppression Tactics and Strategies in the changing world of Fire Suppression.