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Insider's Look at Smokejumping

Insider's Look at Smokejumping

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Bruce L. Nelson w/introduction by FireLink.com

Smokejumpers are highly trained wildfire firefighters deployed to remote locations. They are parachuted in to to secure fires otherwise unreachable by local forces. By making use of high-altitude aircraft, smokejumpers are able to reach fires faster, cheaper, and better equipped than any road-bound vehicle.

Because smokejumping forces are limited to small teams, most of us don’t get a chance to see what these special forces battle. “Buck” Nelson, a 20-year smokejumping veteran, gives us an insider look into the smokejumping world…

“Gobbler”

This photo taken from a Twin Otter aircraft shows a fire in Nevada, during the 2002 fire season. Smokejumpers often call this type of fire a “gobbler,” for the way it gobbles up everything in it’s path, including unwary firefighters.

We picked a safe place to land, which was fortunate, because we were soon “burned over.” To be burned over means to be over-run by the fire. Because we knew this might happen, we selected a “safety zone” long before it was necessary.

When the fire blew up, we withdrew to a previously burned area and watched the towering flames and smoke and listened to the roar of the fire.

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