WATCH: ME Forest Rangers Using Fire to Fight Fire in California
Maine Forest Rangers are using counter-fires to help fight the California wildfires.
I've always heard the expression 'using fire to fight fire,' but only in the context of a personal challenge, like really dedicating yourself to getting a promotion against a hard-working opponent. But I never knew that it's actually something firefighters will do to contain and/or slow a blaze. That is, until the Maine Forest Rangers posted this video of a ranger from Maine lighting a fire line on the Red Salmon Complex, while battling the Northern California wildfires. It sparked (pun intended) my interest, and so I had to do some research.
According to the website for the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services, it's called a backfire. Firefighters will light a line of fire to consume the original fire's fuel and, hopefully, stop it's progress. For instance, if there's a fire racing across a field, the firefighters would light a line of fire a few feet ahead of the path of travel. When the fire reaches that 'already burned' line, it should stop because there's no longer any fuel to feed it.
This is a risky practice, unless it's done by skilled professionals, who know how to do it correctly. There's a chance that the fire line will head in the wrong direction and just spread the fire. I guess you could say it's possible that the backfire could....backfire. But with Maine Forest Rangers manning the torches, you know it's getting done right. I have huge respect for these folks who have left their families behind to travel to the west coast, in order to help extinguish those horrific fires. We wish you success and safety, and hope you can return to your homes soon.