Several Hotshot Crews Among Fire Teams Putting Out the Gun Range Fire
BOUNTIFUL, Utah – It’s never been the easiest job.
However, the views can’t be beat.
Being in the mountains with breathtaking scenery is one of the perks of being a wildland firefighter, even though the other parts of the job would keep most people from applying.
“Yeah, it’s not easy. It’s hot out here. We carry a lot of weight on our backs,” said Shayne Ward as he began hiking up a burned hillside.
For the past three seasons, Ward has been a member of the Utah-based Lone Peak Hotshots.
They are a specialized 20-man fire crew whose expertise is fighting wildfires.
A big part of their job is digging fire lines.
A line they dug on the Gun Range Fire burning in Bountiful is helping to keep the fire contained.
“We don’t always have water so this is our only option and it’s extremely effective as you can see. It just knocks it out,” said Ward.
It is back-breaking, physically demanding work.
Using hand tools to dig and chainsaws to cut vegetation, crews try to surround a fire.
The idea is as a wildfire burns to that line and hits it, the flames die out because there’s nothing left for it to burn and spread.
Quick work by fire crews doing this type of work is one of the reasons why the Gun Range Fire stopped spreading so rapidly.
“Especially here, the fire was very light, and in some spots out, so this is just kind of the nail in the coffin for this part of the fire,” said Ward.
Those hotshot and wildland fire crews also help coordinate air tanker slurry drops and helicopter water drops.
Lone Peak Hotshot firefighters have been going for 25 straight days.
“I think we’re about at seven or eight fires. Just back to back to back,” said Ward.
Ask any of them, though, or any firefighter on almost any wildfire, and they will tell you it’s a job they love.
“It’s physically demanding and mentally demanding, but at the end of the day, you’re just hiking out with your friends doing a cool job that not many people get to experience,” said Ward.
It’s also a job where there is no doubt you’re making a difference.
“You feel a good sense of pride and accomplishment at the end of the day,” said Ward.
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