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BLM crews gear up for fire season

By Mitchell Willetts

The Enterprise

In the late morning hours, fire crews in boots and flame resistant gear march across the parched hills just outside of Vale.

They blend with the dying grass and fading brush, shouldering hoses tethered to U.S. Bureau of Land Management fire trucks.

The heavy-duty fire engines, capable of carrying 750 gallons of water, escort the crews spraying down imaginary flames as they go.

Firefighters stop or slow only rarely, huddling closer to their engines. They gesture and yell, planning their next move. Under the diesels' hum, there's radio chatter. The huddle loosens and the forward attack continues.

An observing fire evaluator approves of what he sees as the Vale crews demonstrate they are ready to face the approaching wildfire season.

“They're better than just good,” said Brian Williams, a BLM reviewer, at last Friday’s exercise. “They're excellent . . .