The U.S. military fights wars overseas, but the country has another military to fight a different kind of war at home: wildfires.
Charlie Brown is an air tactical supervisor for the Bureau of Land Management. Brown and his pilot control the airspace above a fire and lead in the slurry bombers to drop retardant or water on a blaze.
But before he was an air supervisor, for about 18 years he was a smoke jumper.
The smoke jumpers are like the special forces. A plane drops them off at a fire, and the jumpers have enough supplies to be self-sufficient for the first 24 to 48 hours of the fire, alone in the wilderness with their fiery enemy.
While jumpers operate as individuals, hot-shot crews the infantry operate as a team and go in and fight the large fires that make the news, Brown said.
Theyre machines going through the forest, he said.
Brown originally was part of a hot-shot crew, but he knew he wanted to be a jumper as soon as he saw them.
The jumpers usually respond to smaller fires, and they do whatever it takes to contain a fire, Brown said.
Brown lived in Durango but was stationed in Alaska as a smoke jumper when the Missionary Ridge Fire broke out. He had a home on the ridge that managed to survive the blaze.
I was busy on our fire, but I wish I could have come down and helped, he said. It was eating at me that this was my community, and I couldnt help.