Smoke Jumpers - The Bold and The BraveSubmitted by RoadSong at 2012-05-30 06:56:39 EDT
Rating: 1.84 on 14 ratings (27 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
I admire all firefighters, but the smoke jumpers are closest to my heart. They stay for weeks, sometimes months, in the wilderness doing battle with raging wild fires. They are brave and willing to put their lives on the line each time they are needed. Many times the flames surround the fire fighters and they have to crawl in these "shelters" that are just sleeping bags made from fire retardant material, and huddle inside as the fire roars above them.
These photographs were taken by the smoke jumpers, and they gave them to me. I HAD to add billows of smoke and flickering flames. You know I couldn't help it!
Sometimes the smoke jumpers bring me gifts from the fire line. They found a deer pelvis bone in Montana and one of them strapped it to his back pack and carried it around the wilderness for two weeks so he could bring it back to California for me. I hung it on the garden gate. When he presented it to me, he told me he wore it as a mask and danced around his camp fire while others would drum on hollow logs. They get battle weary and do strange things to lighten up their burdens, it reminds me of a reverse cabin fever.
Smokey the Bear says "ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES". The bear is a dumbass, many of these mega blazes are caused by lightning.
The photographs here were not taken at the fire where there was a fatality.
The death of Eva Schicke.
The only female smoke jumper to be killed in this state was Eva Schicke. She was with CAL FIRE Helitack Crew 404 out of Columbia CA. I went to her funeral with Golden Bear, he gave a blessing at the ceremony. There were thousands of people at the fairgrounds to honor her memory. Her body was carried on the back of a fire truck 20 miles in a procession consisting of dozens of red and chrome trucks, and the entire route was lined with people. I stood for hours to pay my respects to her as the procession went through two counties. She died in the canyon up country from my shack, it was the least I could do.
"Eva Schicke's remains were flown home Monday, amid a chorus of bagpipes and to the salute of 2,000 solemn firefighters in formal black and blue dress.
It had been a day of somber celebration for Schicke, the 23-year-old Turlock-born firefighter who was killed Sept. 12 battling a wildfire east of Groveland in southern Tuolumne County.
The first woman in the history of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to die in action, Schicke was remembered by family and friends during a touching, three-hour public ceremony that attracted close to 4,000 people to the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.
It ended with members of the Columbia Helitack crew, Schicke's co-workers since June, loading her coffin aboard the department helicopter for the short flight back to Columbia.
Her family will take her remains from there to their home in Placerville. Services will be private.
Among the speakers at the Angels Camp ceremony Monday was Schicke's fiancé, Shea Buhler, who recalled a kind-hearted woman who also was fiercely competitive. Tenacity, he said, drove Schicke as a firefighter and contributed to her being chosen to the elite 12-person Helitack crew just four years after she joined CDF.
A LAST TRIP THROUGH MOUNTAINS
The memorial began at 10 a.m. Monday with a ceremonial passing of Schicke's cremated remains from the custody of the U.S. Forest Service to CDF at Terzich & Wilson Funeral Home in Sonora. From there, a procession of more than 100 fire vehicles carried Schicke's flag-draped coffin on a four-hour tour through Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, snaking through the towns of Sonora, Columbia, Murphys and Angels Camp.
Along the way, bystanders waved from sides of roads, and some held American flags. A sign on the north side of the Parrotts Ferry Bridge read: "Thank You Eva." Another in front of an Angels Camp thrift store read: "God Bless Our Firefighters."
As the procession, which increased to about 200 vehicles in Angels Camp, approached the entrance to the fairgrounds, two dozen students from Colleen Hancock's fourth-grade class at nearby Christian Family School waved flags behind a chain-link fence."
Cal Fire Investigation Report.
"A sudden wind shift occurred causing the fire to change direction and spread up-slope toward the crew. The fire reacted to the directional wind shift and the backing fire became a spreading fire that turned up-slope with the wind. The fire rate of spread and flame lengths increased dramatically.
Three members of the helitack crew simultaneously shouted the alarm within seconds of the wind shift and everyone started toward their identified safety zones. The captain and three firefighters went down to the river; two firefighters went up toward Lumsden Road, FF Boatman was already on the road. The captain and three firefighters that went downhill reached their safety zone. Both FF Schicke and FF Neveau went uphill but only FF Neveau made it to the road. FF Schicke was last seen by FF Neveau immediately behind him approximately 5 feet from the road. FF Schicke was overrun by the flame front that was spreading uphill and was killed by inhalation of super heated air; she died within seconds. Her body slid down the slope and came to rest approximately 100 feet down-slope from the road. Firefighters at scene estimated the elapsed time from the wind shift to the burnover was less than 30 seconds with the total wind event lasting less than 2 minutes. Fire shelters were not deployed."
I will never forget Eva.
Smoke Jumpers I salute you!
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