Remembering the Past
Our nation has had a number of situations arise recently that have kept us all watching, listening and reading the news. Very close to me were the devastating deaths of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a contract forest fire fighting crew from Prescott, Arizona.
My affinity for the Granite Mountain Hotshots is based on my personal history of making my way through Utah State University working summers with the U. S. Forest Service. In 1961, following six weeks of intensive training at the Forest Management and Fire Training Camp in Logan Canyon, Utah, I was accepted into the Blue Hats Hotshot firefighting crew. We were comprised of 18 members, and stationed at the U. S. Forest Service Center at Missoula, Montana.
Superior training and experience soon taught me that forest fires are highly unpredictable. The combination of fuel (dead-falls, branches, evergreen canopy and ground cover, etc.), an unimpeded flow of oxygen and a means for starting the fire are the three factors that cause the problem. Add to that the presence of rapid changing topography and forested canyons that retain the winds and heat created by the fire itself and you have highly dangerous situations.
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