Article in NYT: "America’s Fire Spotters Aren’t Ready to Fade Away Just Yet"

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Ear Drum

Active member
VFTT Supporter
Feb 21, 2023
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South Glastonbury CT
Good article and photo essay about people working in fire spotting towers, and the move to replace them with cameras. A poetic account of their love for the place, solitude, and work. Focus on Montana.

<Leif Haugen’s setup at Thoma Lookout is about as unflashy as it gets. The glaring exception (And how could it be otherwise?) is the view, a spellbinding panorama of the Crown of the Continent region.
His cabin, elevation 7,104 feet, or just under 2,200 meters, is off the grid and has no running water. There are windows on all sides, an alidade for measuring angles and well-thumbed copies of “Moby-Dick” and Cormac McCarthy’s “Border Trilogy.” Sometimes Mr. Haugen cooks burritos in a propane oven that, if it is on for more than a few minutes, makes the whole place smell like mouse urine.
“It takes a certain kind of person” to be a lookout, he said on a recent evening, sitting outside his cabin as the clouds dropped ghostly trails of virga over the valley. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I could do that.’ And they do it for a year and flame out.”
When did he realize he was the right kind of person? “My first season.”>

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America’s Fire Spotters Aren’t Ready to Fade Away Just Yet