A Salute to Wildland Firefighters Working Ceaselessly to Save the American West

Firefighters who have been working to quell the Eagle Creek fire, started on September 2. Photo credit: Angel Gordon.

While waterlogged Florida and Texas recover from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the American West burns.

Currently, 10 states are battling massive wildfires–including Oregon, which, despite a very wet winter and spring, hasn’t seen significant rain in nearly 3 months.

While most of the wildfires there were started naturally, four in Southern Oregon were set by a man from Utah, and the Eagle Creek fire, the worst one in Oregon’s history was started by a 15-year-old boy from Vancouver, Washington, when he tossed a smoke bomb into a ravine.

Nearly 45,000 acres of pristine forestland along the Columbia River have burned. Once lush with greens and blues, the gorge now looks like Mordor. (No arrests have been made yet, despite witnesses to the boy’s actions.)

Oregon, seen from the Washington side of the Columbia River. Photo credits: Unknown.

A few days after starting, the fire jumped the Columbia River from Oregon to Washington, igniting brush almost five miles away.

Ash gets everywhere. The camps for the firefighters are coated with it, forcing the men and women to breathe it both day and night. In Portland, OR–which is approximately 60 miles from the Eagle Creek Fire–people are finding ash in their homes, despite keeping windows closed, in and on their cars, coating patios and plants.

Many have remarked the eerie, apocalyptic sky and the fine rain of ash trickling down is reminiscent the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980.

There have been 9 firefighter deaths across the wildfire-choked states.

But that hasn’t stopped the men and women from working tirelessly in toxic air, no days off, enduring unfathomable insults ranging from having their cars stolen and their tents trashed, to people jeering them when they do manage to slip into town for a break.

Jake, a 19-year-old firefighter, stares down flames in Horse Prairie, outside of Riddle, OR. Photo Credit: Oregon State Police.

The Eagle Creek fire is now, as of this post, close to 12% contained–a daily success rate of nearly 1%–and other fires have been successfully suppressed.

Umatilla, Oregon firefighters taking a brief rest. Photo credit: Unknown.

Here at SealGrinderPT, we salute all firefighters and first responders who think nothing of putting the homes and lives of others before their own.

Let us know what you think in the comments; if you do, we’ll send you FREE SEALGrinderPT stickers!

Music: “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down.

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