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Wildland firefighter deaths

Patricia Sullivan

Once you see the work of wildland firefighters, you never forget it. These young men and women confront one of the most dangerous forces in nature on some of the roughest terrain in hot and uncomfortable circumstances. Armed with little more than hand tools, an occasional chainsaw and the hope of aerial support, they do their best to protect lives and property for a pittance. There have been some terrible disasters -- the Mann Gulch fire of 1949 and the South Canyon fire on Storm King mountain in 1994 come immediately to mind. I've always wondered if owners of multi-million-dollar homes in the urban-forest interface realize how much they owe the scruffy, dirty firefighters.

In California this week, nine firefighters are presumed dead after the crash of a helicopter on the Trinity-Shasta fire, the LA Times reports. I hope their families know that many of us appreciate the work their relatives did.

By Patricia Sullivan |  August 7, 2008; 5:18 PM ET  | Category:  Patricia Sullivan
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