That's why Pat McCarty signed on in the spring of '05—to travel. “I was going to get to see places in this country most people never see,” he says. In five seasons—he transferred to the city side of the Prescott Fire Department in 2010—he fought wildfires in every state west of the Mississippi and most of the Southeast. And he did see things most people will never see, spectacular and wondrous things, made even more so by how hard he labored to see them. “You're working your balls off all day with nineteen other guys, they're all as miserable as you are, you're cutting fire lines all day,” he says. And at the end of one of those days, you'll cut a line that ties in with another on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and then you'll sit on the edge, legs dangling. The sky will be tangerine and persimmon to the west, and an atmospheric inversion will trap all the smoke in the canyon below, so you will see only gray until, every few minutes, a smoldering log will break loose and crash into the depths and explode like fireworks.
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
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