Defying the risks to fight irascible wild fires

Smokejumping is insane. There really is no other word for it. The job starts with men and women flying in a tin can of a plane over forest fires strong enough to create their own weather patterns and turbulence. Then they leap into the smoky void, often landing on rugged terrain. Once on the ground — if they’re lucky, without a sprained ankle or cracked femur — they gather their gear, throw a 100-pound pack on their backs and trudge in 100-degree heat into thick woods. Wielding...

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