National Geographic : 1968 Jul
Army and National Guard units, state forest workers, employees of the Soil Conservation Service, U. S. Forest Serv ice "hotshot crews" from California, and youths from Job Corps camps. The Bu reau of Land Management had flown in Eskimos from Alaska, and veteran In dian fire fighters arrived from Arizona and New Mexico. There were student volunteers, striking copper miners from Montana, and recruits from the skid rows of Seattle and Spokane. Young Lookout Survives an Inferno Meanwhile, from 6,270-foot Trapper Peak, about 30 miles north of Sundance Mountain, fire was sweeping an area of 16,600 acres. Forest Service officials were holding their breath for fear the winds would merge the two great fires into a single colossal blaze. Toiling on the Trapper Peak lines were 2,000 men. Sundance had already claimed two lives. When the high winds whipped the fire out of control, a Forest Service sector boss and a bulldozer operator found themselves trapped in a blazing ring. Bodies of the men, suffocated, were found under the machine. Death came uncomfortably close to 18-year-old Forest Service lookout Ran dy Langston, who was on the tower atop 7,264-foot Roman Nose when the Sun dance blaze mushroomed. It was his first summer on the job, and he had spent it keeping his eyes on a 360-degree sweep of lordly forests and emerald lakes high in the Selkirk Mountains. He reported daily by radio to Gene Napier, a fire-control officer at Kaniksu head quarters in Sandpoint. Every two weeks he received supplies by pack mule. That Friday afternoon Randy noted rising winds and saw smoke and ashes blow past the tower. Soon, after making calculations with map and alidade-an instrument for determining direction Like Roman candles, evergreens ex plode as flames sweep upward through dry needles in Willamette National Forest. Fire fighters do not attempt the impossible; they know that a grove "topping out" cannot be saved. Man with a hand torch will start backfires in an effort to make the blaze burn in upon itself and thereby spare other threatened trees. KODACHROMES BY KEITHA. ARGOW© N.G.S .