In the last week, 36 smokejumpers parachuted to five fires in the 800,000-acre St. Joe Ranger District, fire officer Gary Sexton said.
Of the approximately two dozen fires reported since the lightning storm of Aug. 10, all but four have been contained. Two crews of 46 firefighters from Canada and Oregon are fighting the Berge Peak fire, a 60-acre blaze west of Red Ives, Mr. Sexton said. A team of Australians was called in to direct crews.
Local firefighters are working on a four-acre burn at Elbow Ridge and a half-acre fire at Needle Point southeast of Red Ives, he said.
The lightning storm of two weeks ago brought a trace of rain that may have assisted to contain small spot fires. Prior to that though, no measurable rain had fallen for seven weeks, and slash, natural or man-made, is tinder dry and easily ignited.
"Everything wants to burn this year," he said.
Mr. Nordeen, who will retire in September, expects to climb out of the lookout tonight, after dark. He will drive the 40-some miles back to Avery, but will probably return tomorrow.
Until then, standing quietly in the lookout with his soft shoes firmly planted on the wooden floor, he is the clear voice of information and comfort to firefighters in the dust and summer's heat in the St. Joe.
"My Creek jumpers, your air to ground frequency is 151.145," he says with quiet repose.