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What It Means to Be Responsible for Wildfire Suppression

Logan resident Scott Bushman is a member of a Northern Utah Type-III Overhead Team, responsible for managing wildlife suppression operations. Kerry Bringhurst talked to Bushman about what it's like to wake up to a phone call and go fight a wildland fire.

Friday night, Bushman received a call, just a few hours after heat from the exhaust system of a truck started the blaze that would become the Rose Creek Fire in Herriman. The fire destroyed 4 homes and burned more than 700 acres.

When Bushman gets a call, he doesn't always get a lot of information: "All you're told is that you're being mobilized and where to report to. All they knew was the homes had burned and they were doing air tanker drops. The fire was very serious and it was a priority. You just start packing and get there as soon as you can."

Part of Bushman's job is to assess the fire from a helicopter. He says it's often a relief to see the fire from this perspective: "The thing about getting a bird's-eye-view is that the panic is reduced. It's not as bad as it seems on the ground when you're 1,000 feet overhead. It's exciting because you can identify critical areas quickly and radio to people on the ground and make sure that you have resources going in that direction."

Bushman is returning to Cache Valley today after spending the weekend helping to manage the battle against the blaze. He and the rest of the team remain on call for the next 9 days. Right now, Bushman says, the greatest challenge for the crew is finding time to rest before the next call.

"With the fire danger and all of the activity we have been having to pick and choose. A lot of our folks have been reassigned to other areas. We've got so many fires going on around the state than it is just hard to hold people to the team."