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Insider's Look at Smokejumping

Insider's Look at Smokejumping

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Bruce L. Nelson w/introduction by

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…

“Tony Tools”

Sometimes back-pack pumps are used, or power pumps are dropped if there is a handy water source. Fires in Alaska call for somewhat different tactics.

The perimeter is usually secured by beating with burlap sacks, or a 6’ spruce tree limbed up to a “broom” shape, or with specially designed beating tools called “tony tools.”

Here are smokejumpers at nightfall beating on a spring fire on Kodiak Island with tony tools and burlap sacks. Water is used when available, and chainsaws are often used to cut a fireline through the spruce trees.

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