Hot Shots

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Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Andrew Satran

A Vandenberg Hot Shots vehicle backs into the belly of a C-17 at its California base before heading off to Colorado.

The Pentagon’s only wildfire-fighting team has been dispatched to help fight the Colorado wildfires. Well, one Colorado wildfire. After all, it’s only a team of 18.

And since the Vandenberg Hot Shot squad belongs to the Air Force, it’s no surprise it’s expected to fight the Waldo Canyon fire that’s disrupting the arrival of new cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The crew says it practices “structure triage” designed to save buildings, not merely extinguish fires. “When a building or community faces a wild fire danger we use structure triage,” Jesse Hendricks, Vandenberg Hot Shots superintendent, tells an Air Force public-affairs officer. “First we remove any fuel source, like trees or shrubbery, from around the home using hand tools. Once we’ve created an area clear of fuels, we actually burn a fire around the structure that will carry the initial fire away from the homes.”

Good luck, Hot Shots!