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  • J.D. Swanson

    Some years ago I interviewed owners of a company that made the individual fire shelters under government contract; I was fascinated and used the information in a sidebar to the main article. I watched a fire shelter being made, and the company owner demonstrated one for me, showing how it opened from about the size of a woman's very small, flat clutch purse, to what resembled a mummy sleeping bag. When firefighters can't get out of the line of fire, the fighter is to quickly dig a shallow trench, pull the folded-up shelter off his belt, open it, get inside and zip up, then lie face down in the trench where there would be an air pocket to breathe as the fire passes over his back. The material used by that company looked like quilted silver space blanket. I was devastated to hear of the death of the Arizona men, especially after having personal knowledge of the shelters they (might have) used.

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