Fire 371

      Fire 371 was nasty. We were called out to the fire about two hours after returning from Fire 348, and the weather was already starting to deteriorate. Our first indication that this fire was not going to be fun was that it was reported by one of the other Initial Attack crews who chose not to action it in favour of continuing to another fire they had not seen. I was landed on a beach on Kinbasket lake to fill some stillwells while Paul and Tanya searched for a hover exit location and hiked in. The rain started while I was still on the beach. I was flown in to the fire at about 1800h and hover exited into the same location used by the others. The hike to the fire was about 200 metres but took about 45 minutes. As well as being mostly cliff bands, we had to contend with devils club, slide alder, rhodedendron and stinging nettles. We quickly realized that we weren't going to be able to complete work that evening so I started constructing tent platforms. After two and a half hours I had carved three small platforms just large enough to sleep on. Building the ledges involved buidling a rock wall on the downhill side using the rocks I excavated from the uphill side. We calculated the slope of the ground between cliff bands to be about 45 degrees, leading to the joke that instead of having to call "ROCK" if we dislodged something, we might have to call "BEAR" if a friendly grizzly tried climb down to investigate our camp. It rained all night, but thanks to the two huge trees in the middle of the burn, we still had to put another two stillwells worth of water on the fire the next day. The combination of massive roots and equally massive mounds of cones collected by generations of squirrels made for a lot of work. Hacking out a hover entrance spot took Paul a few hours because of the difficulty in finding a spot where the helicopter could hover low enough for us to climb in without hitting his main rotors on the cliffs above. We ended up using a stump from a tree which Paul cut to give us a five foot boost, allowing us to climb into what is now our favourite helicopter. In spite of it being the middle of summer, we had the heat on much of the flight back.