Bridger to Buy Bighorn as Wildfires Blaze

As wildfires rage from the Mediterranean to North America, Bridger Aerospace Group Holdings, Inc., one of the largest aerial firefighting companies in the U.S., announced its acquisition of Bighorn Airways, Inc. The $39 million cash and stock deal will bring under Bridger Aerospace’s umbrella Bighorn’s fleet of 12 aircraft, which are currently “used for wildfire smoke jumping as well as special mission transport and delivery for government customers.”

The first “smoke jump” was in the Pacific Northwest in 1940 when firefighters began flying to remote areas affected by wildfires and parachuting down to battle the blaze before it spreads. Today, there are only 450 smokejumpers across the U.S. but they have proven highly effective in quickly traveling to remote locations to keep wildfires from raging out of control. They are stationed across the western states, with bases in Alaska, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and California.

Wildfires have made headline news repeatedly this summer. Raging wildfires in Canada have already burned four times as much land compared to the typical season, displacing 120,000 people and killing firefighters battling the blaze. The fires are blamed on lightning strikes from “dry thunderstorms” that did not include enough rain to extinguish the initial flames. Dry timber and strong winds permitted the fires to spread rapidly and consume the forests.


Fires burning in Canada spewed harmful particulate matter across the country and south into the United States, placing 70 million Americans under air quality alerts and making air unhealthy to breathe as far south as Alabama. Large swaths of North America were blanketed in an orange haze that blocked out much of the sun and cast cities in an apocalyptic smog. Over one thousand active blazes continue.

Across the Atlantic, more than 40 people have been killed across Algeria, Greece, and Italy as a heatwave afflicts the region, with parts of Greece expected to reach 111 degrees today. According to the BBC, “High winds and tinder-dry vegetation mean firefighters are struggling in many areas to douse the flames and create firebreaks.”

Expected to close this September, the deal is touted in the companies’ joint press release: “Bighorn provides year-round logistics for the Department of Defense (DoD) which broadens Bridgers annual recurring revenue profile. From providing aircraft and flight crews in support of the U.S. governments smoke jumper program, to flying missions in the North Pole region of Alaska, Bighorn adds unique skills, equipment and personnel to what is now the largest specialty wildfire aviation fleet in the country.”