First there’s a fire, then initial attack …
Photos by Ben Covault
… though this season the first smoke is likely to be followed by five fires and then 50, a fire bust. We chase lightning, escaped campfires, arson, accidental ignitions but the sparks turn too fast into inferno.
When these fires bust it’s our job to get to the flames, to size them up and get to work — managing fires. That’s where smokejumpers come in handy … and helitack, hotshots, engine and hand crews, lookouts, volunteer firefighers, the ranger ‘militia’ and the national guard … all who face initial and extended attack.
In this remarkable fire season it’s still too soon to “After Action” our fires. But here we offer a few photos from thousands that frame a crazy fire season, #dirtyaugust, with all-hands-on-deck conditions in California, the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, Canada, and beyond.
These photos by McCall, Idaho smokejumper Ben Covault offer one firefighter’s witnessing of this season’s fire busts. One photo gets us to the fires, en route to initial attack; another lets us escape from a blowup en route to safety zones. The third reminds us these forests are flammable.
It may take awhile to answer the questions that this fire season poses. But we’ll need all these images, and thousands more, to piece this puzzle into the answers we need to guide us in the burning seasons to come.