Charley Becomes a Fire Patrol
Rapidly the three made their way through the forest. The forester led his companions up the valley a distance to a fire trail. Along this they traveled as rapidly as they could have done on a village sidewalk. By several of these fire trails they made their way through valleys and over hills, finally reaching the road. The forester’s car was there, and an hour’s run brought them to the forester’s office at Oakdale.
Charley was intensely interested in everything he saw in this office. On the wall were huge maps of the forest areas under Mr. Marlin’s control. These maps showed the mountains, big springs, streams, roads, fire trails, etc., and little tacks with heads of different colors were stuck here and there in the maps to show where rangers, fire-wardens and game protectors lived. The telephone was also shown.
Charley was interested to learn that he and Lew had been fully twelve miles distant from the telephone. It had taken the fire crew, hardy men experienced in mountain travel, three hours to cover those twelve miles, even when they had fire trails most of the way. He wondered how much longer it would have taken them if they had had to travel through the rough forest. Many hours longer, he was certain. And that meant that it would have taken one equally as long to get out to the telephone to notify the forester of the fire. He felt sure there must be many places where one might be more than twelve miles distant from the telephone; and he realized more keenly than ever what a big part the wireless could play in saving the forest. He resolved that he would keep his wireless outfit with him when he went back into the forest as a fire patrol.
But the maps on the wall were not all that interested Charley. There were fire-fighting tools of various sorts. There were double-bitted axes and axes with short handles to be used in one hand. These were of the finest steel, very sharp, and well balanced. There were implements that were really potato-hooks, though in the forest they were used for clearing away brush and leaves rather than for digging potatoes. Then there were short-handled, four-toothed rakes, for use in back-firing. Also there were lanterns, and finally a small compressed air sprayer, for wetting the ground when back-firing. All these tools were painted a bright red. The forester explained that the sprayer wasn’t often used, but that sometimes it came in very handy. The implements were red so that they could be found easily. Otherwise many would be lost in almost every fight with a fire.