Mario Villalobos

Pistol Creek Fire (Day 2)

Montana is beautiful. One of the big reasons why I moved up here from Southern California was because I always thought this. Firefighting for the past three years has only made me appreciate how truly lovely this state is. Being a firefighter has given me the opportunity to explore Montana’s beautiful and majestic forests, and whenever I encounter a view like this, my jaw drops. I wish I could show you all the vast beauty that’s up there in the mountains. The beauty will blow you all away.

Like I mentioned yesterday, we mopped up the northern flank of the fire today. Now that the perimeter of the fire is contained, mopping up means taking out all the open flames and smokes we see in the interior. This is where the fire burned, and fire likes to go where there’s fuel. Roots usually live underground, and guess what? That’s where the heat likes to stay and cause us trouble. A little puff of smoke could mean a tree’s entire root structure is burning, and if it wasn’t for that little puff, we would have no idea that heat is under there. If we missed it, that heat could turn to open flames. Those open flames could grow big enough to be blown across the line by the wind. You know what’s across the line? Fuel. And that fuel will burn, and then we’ll be back to where we started. Our objective was to grid the interior twenty feet from the line. Anything past that is too far in for it to cause us any trouble. Temperatures reached into the 90s, but it felt hotter since the ground was burnt to ash, burning our feet and making all of us miserable. The glue from one of my buddy’s boots melted, destroying his boots. We completed our objective today, and I think we did a fantastic job. We’ll be back out there again tomorrow.

And I think that wraps it up for today…

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I got the IT job. I have a job now. Like someone is going to pay me money for me to do something I love. Is this real life? It pays double what I earned at my last job. I start Thursday. My only concern now is taking out this fire before then. I think we will, but if we don’t, I’ll have to demobilize early because I’m not screwing this opportunity up.

I have a job, and I’m happy.