As wildfires consume the American west, economic uncertainty plagues those tasked with containing them
During his first season as a wildland firefighter with the Idaho Department of Land, Luke Meyer camped out in a decrepit building infested with rodents. It was 2017 and he was a 20-year-old rookie earning $11 an hour. In the rural community where he worked, outside Bonners Ferry, Idaho, housing was scarce and rent was a luxury he couldn’t afford.
Meyers kept a mattress inside a tent on the floor of his temporary home, provided for free by his employer, to prevent mice from crawling across his chest as he slept.