Tue September 23rd, 2014

Day 16: Pistol Creek Fire (Day 3)

The Pistol Creek fire is on the Mission Mountains outside of Arlee on an elevation of about 4,500 feet. I found this little seashell up there buried underneath inches of hot duff and roots. This little guy is so unbelievable old that imagining how truly old it is boggles my mind. The whole world used to be underwater, and I think we sometimes lose sight of that and our place in the universe. Anyways…

We went back up to the northern flank of the fire. Actually, we started from the bottom and moved a chain from the line and gridded up. A chain is 66 feet. Usually our squads are split up into three groups of six, but since we were a little shorthanded this time around, we split up into just two squads of about eight. If we were just six people, then we would spread apart ten feet from the person to our left. Six people times ten feet is 66 feet. Gridding just means taking care of the area in front of us and destroying any hot spots we find. We found a ton very early on, so we quickly abandoned this plan. We were pretty much seeking and destroying for the rest of the day. Later in the afternoon, a short rain shower hit us, providing us a brief respite from the heat. It also helped us uncover dozens more hot spots that we missed by heating the rain drops into steam and smoke. There’s a lot more work to do before we fully fight this fire, but unfortunately, I won’t be around for the end. Tomorrow will be my last day on the Pistol Creek fire.

I start my new job on Thursday. I’m nervous and excited and relieved and a range of other emotions. I’ve never had a full-time job that provided me with benefits, but I will on Thursday. I’ve never had a full-time job that has paid me an hourly wage as high as I’ll be paid on my new job, but I will on Thursday. For the first three months, I’ll be on a probationary period, and if I perform well — which I plan to do — then my hourly wage will increase. I’ll be making just as much as I do firefighting but with more consistent hours and with benefits. I can finally attack my student loans with more vigilance than I have been. I can finally invest my money without it hurting my day-to-day finances. I’m a minimalist at heart, and this new job can help me finally not worry about money for a while. Once I find a wife and have kids, then I’ll have to seriously reconsider my life. But that won’t be for a while.

I wonder how much land costs around here. I’ve always wanted to build a house…

year one

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Day 15: 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
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Day 17: Pistol Creek Fire (Day 4) I’m no longer fighting the Pistol Creek fire. I demobilized a few hours ago, effectively ending my 2014 fire season. I fought seven fires this