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How Smokejumpers Hit The Hard-To-Reach Fires

July 3, 2012, 6:49 PM by Kelly Bartnick

How Smokejumpers Hit The Hard-To-Reach Fires
EDGEMONT, SD -

The Parker Peak fire has some new help. It comes from the sky, where fire fighters are jumping in to stop the blaze from getting out of control.

This is the first time in the state's history that a Black Hills fire team is using smokejumpers to combat a fire.

By all accounts, smokejumpers are firefighters, but with a very unique skill.  They parachute into hard-to-reach fire zones to fight the fire.

Many fires are accessible by helicopter or other aircraft, but the planes smokejumpers use are faster aircrafts. The men and women also wear padded Kevlar clothing and jump carrying items like fire axes, hardhats, rope other necessities for a shift on the front lines of the fire.

Usually smokejumpers reach fires while they are still small. They don't parachute directly into a fire, instead they land a safe distance away and hike to the fire site. Once there, trees, brush, and flammable debris are cleared along the edge of the fire to try and stop it from spreading.

This isn't a new concept. Smokejumpers have been around since the 1940s and contribute to fire fights all over the western US and Alaska.

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