T-shirts a popular souvenir among firefighters

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 6:37 PM
Mandi Wilson helps Cora Whisenhunt with the 416 Fire team find a T-shirt Monday. The Wilson family from Washington state was selling 416 Fire T-shirts near the Incident Command Post at Animas Valley Elementary School north of Durango. The Wilsons travel to wildfires around the country to sell their shirts.
Dan Wilson from Washington state created this design for the 416 Fire T-shirts that his family is selling.

Alongside the parking lot at Animas Valley Elementary School, where the 416 Fire Incident Command Post is located, a merchant is selling T-shirts.

At large wildfires, selling T-shirts to firefighters is a tradition, said Cheri Wilson, who owns Black Sheep Tees with her husband, Dan.

Dan Wilson was a contract wildland firefighter before operating the T-shirt business.

On Monday evening, with the smell of smoke in the air, Cheri and her daughter, Mandi, waited for firefighters to come by their T-shirt booth.

The family is from Washington state and travels to the biggest fires in the country with their shirts.

“He saw the need, and we had a screen-print business, so it just kind of made sense to take a couple months and do it for them,” Cheri Wilson said.

The 416 Fire shirt, designed by Dan Wilson, features a team of firefighters with large flames in the background.

Some firefighters have sizable collections of shirts from the numerous fires they have fought. They also like to buy the shirts as souvenirs for family and friends, Cheri Wilson said.

“The firefighters see the T-shirts as kind of a pride thing, that they were part of putting out that fire,” she said.

Firefighters usually buy the shirts when they are leaving, so Wilson was not sure how many 416 Fire shirts she would sell while in Durango.

On Monday, the Wilsons had been in Durango for about two weeks.

They were planning to travel north to Montana or Wyoming before heading home to Washington around the Fourth of July.