Idaho – Sitting in our ready room while listening to morning briefing, our crew boss came in with orders. We were headed to a fire in Idaho. Instantly, the excitement grew and the chatter increased. He calmed everyone down, briefed us on the situation and told us to get ready. In an instant, 20 of us were filing out the door, tidying up any last minute items that had come up. Within 20 minutes we were loaded into the crew carriers and headed toward the fire. It was about a 5 hour drive to get there. Just enough time to get antsy. When we arrived, we could see the fire ripping up a hillside, the column rising up into the clear blue sky. When a fire is completely out of control like that, there aren’t many options. Our crew boss tied in with the Incident Commander and talked out a plan. We headed over to a portion of the fire that was manageable and started burning out off of roads. The winds were steady and twice we had to stop our operation and get to a safety zone, only to head back in minutes later when it was deemed we were safe.
At one point, a lone buggy was sent in with a crew of 6 to tie in with an engine and perform a particularly scary burnout. They would start lighting along a road, the engine going one way, the buggy going the other in hopes that it would create a black line, a buffer that would stop the larger fire. The winds had picked up and the fire was closing in on our line. It became apparent that the operation was wasn’t going to be successful. The crew members on the ground, were ordered back into the buggy. One hung on to a railing on that back and continued to burnout as the buggy raced up the dirt road back toward the safety zone. We watched from afar as the fire blew past our line, knowing that we would regroup and try some more. As the sun set, the fire died down a little bit more and we continued the burnout into the night. After burning out for the majority of the day and night, we tied it into an anchor point and settled down for the evening. The fire would continue ripping for another couple days before we, along with several other crews and a few air tankers, could finally get a handle on it.