What it takes to fight a wildland fire

Caitlin Chinn

The geography of the Western United States is so variable, but the gist is: You put a line around the fire -- handline, dozer line, roads, rivers, whatever -- and hold that line with whatever methods you've got, hoselays, helicopter water drops, retardant, mainly just brute ground labor. If you can't put a line around it, you draw a big box and either wait for the fire to come to you or you burn it out, and hold it. They call it fighting fire with fire, but it’s more like making the fire bigger on your own terms. You never fight the same fire twice, but you apply what you know from similar fires to apply similar tactics.

Photo by Caitlin Chinn, '13