Steve French: Saving lives, eating dry peanut butter sandwiches |

Steve French: Saving lives, eating dry peanut butter sandwiches

Thank you for the recent trip down memory lane in your recent column regarding fighting wildfires, Don “Cage” Rogers.

It took me back to our time together being one of the best fire crews in the nation — the Los Prietos Hot Shots!

I happened to be in Santa Barbara last weekend when two major fires broke out in the area. I was driving home early Monday morning when I came upon fire crews leaving Santa Maria to go attack the Alamo fire. I began a conversation with my co-pilot (who knew nothing about the profession) about things like fire pants, polaskis, con crews, Phos-Chek (fire retardant) drops — and how good those dry peanut butter sandwiches tasted when they were dropped to us by helicopter in the middle of the wilderness while working a 24-hour shift!

My mind began to wander and I thought, “I wonder if I could still do that?”

Then I moved in my seat and my back hurt … then my knees … then my shoulder!

No, firefighting as a hot shot truly is a young man’s game! It gave us both some fantastic experiences. Anyone who has never done cannot truly understand, as evidenced by one of my co-pilot’s questions: “So, did you get breaks every four hours?”

No, my friend we did not, nor do they now!

All the more reason to be thankful for these hard working men and women every time you see another wildfire controlled, saving untold lives and structures.

Steve “Griz” French lives in Auburn.

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