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What's It Like To Be A Wildland Firefighter?

OPB | Aug. 7, 2014 12:06 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 7, 2014 1:52 p.m.

The Rowena wildfire forced evacuations from some 275 houses and structures on Aug. 6.

The Rowena wildfire forced evacuations from some 275 houses and structures on Aug. 6.

Lizzy Duffy / OPB

As the 2,600-acre Rowena fire in the Columbia River Gorge rages, residents of 275 homes have been told to evacuate and a total of 600 homes are threatened. This fire season also saw the largest wildfire in Washington history, the Carlton Complex of fires, which is now 90 percent contained after 1,600 firefighters battled the blaze for weeks.

We wanted to hear from a firefighter about what it’s like to spend summers on the ground, jumping into wildfires at their most dangerous levels. Wildland firefighters can work for up to 14 days straight, with two days off in between calls to active fires, according to the National Park Service. They work in crews of about 20 men and women and are employed by state and federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service or private contractors.

Do you have experience with or questions about wildland firefighting?

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