The Firehawks Hotshots aren’t directly tied to the Firehawks of my fictional Mount Hood Aviation. And yet they were born from those stories.
There are many different elements to a wildland firefight:
Lookouts Spotter aircraft (which have replaced most lookouts and are now in turn being replaced by satellites detecting atypical heat blooms) Local fire departments (often with wildfire engines) Hotshots who hike into the firefight Smokies who parachute in Helitack (firefighters delivered by helicopter) Air tankers (which include helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft)Then, especially on the big fires, there are whole layers of camps, support, and command-and-control teams. A really big fire may mobilize more people than lived in the town I grew up in (1,200). The hotshots are only the tiniest slice of the battle and my stories are but a tiny slice of that team’s view.
In writing about the MHA Firehawks, I slowly learned about these other types of teams and wanted to learn more. What better excuse than to write a series of romance stories about them? And that’s how the Firehawks Hotshots came into being.
They are technically an IHC—Interagency Hotshot Crew—who can be called up by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and others, hence the Interagency part of their name. They are typically formed by one of the agencies, but may also be formed by local fire departments. These teams assemble every spring and mostly disband every winter after the fire season is over. Traveling all over the western US in the “Box” as their truck is called, they fight fires wherever they occur, typically May to October.
Sixteen hour days, sleeping wild, and eating camp food is the norm. Working forty-eight hours or more straight is not the exception when the fires are raging.
Some areas have such horrible fire seasons that those teams rarely travel out of state: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Others have a very short but intense season, in say Arizona or New Mexico, then travel farther afield. They are often on the road for months.
I set my team in the Washington Cascade Mountains for several reasons: there is no real-life team based there, I love the area, and I saw the results of a horrible fire that swept through the region years ago.
But it really came from Candace. She was so excited to form her own team, that I had to write her story.
Fire Light Fire Bright
Candace Cantrell fights forest fires as a lead member of a hotshot crew. When she lands the opportunity to build a brand new crew of her own, she ends up with more than she bargained for.
Former Navy SEAL Luke Rawlings struggles with a past he can’t leave behind. A past that blinds him to the future, until the moment he tries out for a new hotshot crew.
Most people wish upon a star. Hotshot crews do it differently:
“Fire Light Fire Bright…”