Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

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I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I got invited to go up and watch the continuation of the burn that was started last week. Here are some sequential photos of the progress of the burn from start to nearly the finish of yesterdays ignition from about 4:00 p.m. to just after 9:00 p.m. I estimate that this burn was somewhere near 300 acres. This coupled with what was burned last week makes about 500 acres of a 3308 acre burn complete.

On the right side of most of the pictures there is a double topped fir tree that I left when I cropped the pictures to save a reference of how big this burn really was. I have seen some of the photos of the other side of the burn and they are quite impressive. The first three photos are of the fire side of the burn---the trees on the ridge are about 80 feet tall for flame length reference.


This fire escaped in early June and burned 2170 acres (2670 total acres) outside the prescription area. I spent 6 days doing logistics for a type 3 team before we were replaced by a type 2 team that watched it for a couple of days and turned it back to a local type 4 team. This was a really good fire for me because I got to watch the people I have trained in action.


Monday, May 28, 2012


I may have already blogged about this experience but feel like I need to share it with my readers. This is to remember my friend and class mate Jim Frank Jennings who died on June 20, 1969 at Landing Zone Ike in South Viet Nam. I got a letter from him in the mail on the day we heard he had died. It really had a terrible effect on me. I saved the letter and re-read it last night. He was in a Company that had about 1/5 the normal number of soldiers that were deployed to outposts. They were into lots of action and all of them worried about their safety and survival.

Jim was very worried about a friend, Lyle Talbot, that went to Viet Nam with him but was assigned to a different company when they arrived. They had lost contact and he wanted to know if I had heard anything. I hadn't but am thankful Lyle made it home safely.

This picture was taken at the Viet Nam wall at the Mall in Washington D.C. three days before Thanksgiving in 1999. My fire team had been assigned to a fire in Shenandoah National Park in West Virginia. We were all concerned that we were going to miss Thanksgiving at home due to our release just two days before. We were sent to Washington D.C. to fly home when arrangements could be made and so we had about three or four hours in Washington D.C. to see the sights. We hired a bus and went to the Mall.

The man standing by me in the picture is Larry Durk, our Ground Support Unit Leader on the team. When we walked up to the book to determine where Jim's name was the walkway to the wall was full of people, including the next graduating class from Annapolis. After I got the location of his name I started down the walkway and was really surprised to see that there was no one there but us. I sat down and scratched his name from the wall onto a sheet of paper and another friend took this picture. When I looked up the entire graduating class from Annapolis was in the overlook watching us.

As we started to leave Larry asked me "What did you do to clear all those people out?" I said "I didn't do anything." He said "Oh yes you did. Those people couldn't get out of there fast enough." It was an awesome experience to have the entire wall to myself while I traced his name. It was actually a religious experience for me because I felt like he was sitting on the other side of the wall while I was tracing his name.

As we were leaving the commandant of the Annapolis Cadets came up to me and thanked me for the experience his cadets got watching me at the wall. He said he didn't know what happened but none of the cadets would ever forget what they felt that day.

We thankfully made it home the day before Thanksgiving.


Saturday, May 19, 2012


A couple of nights ago we were riding along a little back road south of where we live. This little cotton tail rabbit hopped down the road in front of us for a while before he jumped off to the side and sat up behind this gate. It is neat to see this close to home. On the ride we also saw two chuckers running across the road and up the hill beside us but they were way too fast to get a picture.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Most of you know that a big part of my life and profession has been related to wildland fire. I spent 25 years as part of an organized fire team that dealt with the most threatening fires. I loved doing that and I also participated in prescribed burns serving at positions from Igniter to Burn Boss. I loved the challenge of prescribed fire and trying to treat acres with fire before nature did it for us.

I assure you that sooner or later nature is going to burn every acre that has vegetation on it. The fires will also remove any structure or other improvement that has been built on it unless firefighters intervene and can get close enough to keep the fire from destroying them. The key to this is to be able to get close enough to it to make a stand and not be at risk of losing your life. Fires with flame lengths of four feet or less can generally be handled directly by firefighters. Flame lengths greater than four feet generally require equipment to suppress them and fires with flame lengths greater than eleven feet will generally be spotting out in front of the fire making it unsafe for anyone to be out there, even if all they are doing is recon. The spruce/fir fuel type is notorious for spotting and makes control difficult because the fire spreads rapidly from the spots.

Yesterday the District where I used to be the Ranger called and invited me to come up on the mountain and watch a prescribed burn they were going to do in the spruce/fir fuel type. I was excited to be invited up to watch even though I would have to stay a significant distance away from where they were lighting the fire. I pulled into a turnout on the road where I could easily watch the fire. I took these three pictures while I was sitting there. The first one was five minutes, the second was ten minutes and the third was thirty minutes into the ignition. If you look closely in the second photo you can see spots beginning to show up to the right of the main fire and in the third photo you can see spot fires scattered all along the smoke column and if you look at the bottom of the black smoke you can actually see flames. The flames at this time were over 25 feet in length and were consuming whole trees quickly.

I spent the rest of the day driving around the fire and letting the burn boss know what it was doing and where it was advancing to and how fast it was burning. As is generally the case when the sun went down the fire behavior reduced significantly and the fire finally dropped to the ground where it could be handled by the firefighters. Today they went in with a couple of crews and took the head out of the fire. It should be safe after today.

This fire was ignited under a very tight burning prescription and still gave the crew all they wanted to deal with. Had a fire started in this area during the real fire season I would hazard a guess that significant losses to personal property near this area would have occurred. This area is not going to be fireproof after this burn but it is going to be safe for firefighters to get close to the flames and put the fire out.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Friday we went North to prepare for and have a wedding for our daughter Lightning Strikes. We got to town , checked into our motel and went to dinner with her future in laws, her, and her fiance. It was a nice evening and I was glad when it was over. We visited with some of our other kids in the area for a while then picked up my tuxedo and went back to the motel for the night.

When we got to the motel one of our son-in-laws called me and asked if I wanted to fly south with him to a fly in breakfast. He guaranteed we would be back in time for the festivities so I went with him---I had a great time with the flight and also visiting folks at the breakfast. The food was also great. We flew back to town and went to our oldest daughter's house to wait for Inklings and Lightning Strikes to finish the hair and nail appointments. When they got there we visited a short time and went to the location for the wedding. People were rushing around like crazy getting the final details finished. I was happy when we finally got to walk down the aisle to meet with the groom and the bishop that performed the ceremony. It was a beautiful affair and I was tickled to get through it all in good shape.

The one thing my daughter insisted on was that I dance with her on her wedding day. This was the first time I had ever danced with her since I missed her Junior Prom because of an assignment at the 2002 Olympics. I didn't even know I missed it until years later. The picture above is of us dancing for the first time. It was fun as you can see in the picture and she had absolutely no idea I knew how to dance.