Smokejumper leaping from a plane
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Forest fires kept at bay in US by elite 'smokejumpers'

The drought that has gripped much of the American West shows no sign of abating - yet despite the tinder-box conditions, so far less land in the region has been lost to wildfires in 2014 than in recent years.

That is partly due to an aggressive strategy to stop smaller forest fires before they become too big to handle.

At the frontline of this effort are the smokejumpers, airborne firefighters who parachute into the wilderness to get the blazes under control.

It's a dangerous job for an elite group of highly-trained men and women. The BBC spoke to three smokejumpers - Ben Elkind, Gretchen Stumhofer and Luis Gomez - at their base in Redding, California.

Produced by the BBC's Jack Garland.

Additional footage courtesy of Ben Elkind and Tye Erwin

  • 26 Aug 2014
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