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They jump out of airplanes landing in wildfires: Canada's smokejumpers

Wednesday, August 28th 2019, 2:01 pm - Jumping out of an airplane is risky, and it becomes even more so when the jumper is strapped with 270 lbs of equipment and landing in an active fire zone.

For some, this is nothing more than a day's work.

They're called "smokejumpers", an elite group of firefighters who battleremote and difficult terrain in the Canadian wilderness.

Smokejumper Greg Jones tells The Weather Network his team uses airplanes because they're fast and can carry a large amount of equipment.

This allows crews to easily access a fire, often started by lightning, that may not be connected to roads or bridges and prevent the fire from raging out of control until reinforcements arrive.

BRIGHT COVE - smokejumpers Smokejumpers often tackle fires sparked by lightning.

Smokejumpers are deployed with tents and enough survival gear to remain onsite for up to 48 hours, but stays can be extended depending on the severity of the fire.

To become a smokejumper, Jones says you need at least one year of firefighting experience and a month of jump training.

Canada's first smokejumping squad was founded in 1949 in La Ronge, Sask., according to the CBC.

There are currently two active teams in Canada with a total of 59 members.


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