The Smokey Bear Hotshots were formed as an elite Type 1 fire fighting crew in 1976 and are based out of Ruidoso, NM in the heart of the Sacramento and Capitan Mountains. In 1950 during the Capitan Fire, a little and burned bear cub was found by a local crew of volunteer fire fighters. This bear was nursed back to health and was adopted by the National Zoo in Washington, DC and renamed "Smokey Bear" and began a long and healthy life as the living symbol of fire prevention. The Ranger District (formerly the Ruidoso District) and the hotshot crew adopted the honorary name of "Smokey Bear" to honor this event.
The crew travels all over the US to fight fires and assist with a number of other incidents involving natural disasters. Although Ruidoso is in the heart of New Mexico, the village itself rests in the high mountains.