Pining Away Over Smoke

It’s not workable to wear air packs at wildland fires, but you can usually stay out of the worst of the smoke if you’re careful. I wasn’t.

Sunday we responded to a fire that burned into a field and a pine woods. After getting the brush truck stuck (my 4WD success ratio sucks) I ended up in the woods, and underestimated the amount of smoke while working my way to the front of the fire.

It wasn’t too bad … except it appears that one of my many allergies is pine trees, and the smoke was from burning pine wood and needles. I spent all day Monday with a sore throat, raspy breath, wheezing, irritated eyes, and itchy skin. It was like watching a political debate. But I slept through most of it (the allergies, not the debate—well, the debate too), because that’s what Benadryl does to me.

So from a “routine” ground cover fire I got smoke inhalation, while another firefighter had singed hair, and a third a cut head. What lesson do we take from this?

You never know what’s going to go wrong. Not an original lesson, but still.

500E 500N field fire photo grassfire--AFDandKFD.jpg
No, not the same fire, Emily took this a few years ago ... I was busy both times.


  1. Gee, Mark--if it weren't for bad luck, you wouldn't have any!

    1. Oh, I don't know ... I was smart enough to have my helmet and gear on when I went into those woods, so at least I didn't get scratched up!

  2. Well it's not dull, that's for sure.

    I was looking at a coffee table book over the weekend I have on the BC forest fires from a decade back. I find myself thinking the West is going to be in for the same sort of thing this summer.

    1. Oh, yeah. If I was 21 again, I'd want to be a firefighter out west this summer ... but now, I'm glad I'm over here.