B. and I load up the aerial ignition machine and head down the road, where we will meet a helicopter for another round of prescribed burning. This isn't anything new, but what's different this year is how dry it is. Everything is about a month ahead of time; in a lot of ways it seems like June already.
Property owners are still optimistically burning piles of brush. Some escape; one homeowner manages to burn down his barn and some other outbuildings. One fire grows to several acres, prompting calls for crews and helicopters. Our burn tries to get away, kind of; we corral the bonus acres with water drops from the helicopter. Informed that he needs to spend the night, the pilot looks bemused, but he's used to this, and he and the fuel truck driver head off to find a place to stay. The next morning we rally again, but a light rain occurred overnight, and there's not much fire left. Released, the pilot flies off toward home and a scheduled burn on another forest the next day.
Even the doubters are starting to think that we may have a busy fire season this year. It all depends on the June rains. If they show up, we'll spend our time in other places: California, Oregon, maybe Alaska. If not, we will be busy here. Not counting on it, my minions have begun to flee to other assignments. But that's the beauty, and the curse, of a job that is so weather dependent. You just never know.