It’s the 12 members of Engine Company 22 deploying their fire shelters. Which sounds very technical and powerful.
But what it really means is that they were trapped – as the photographer put it, in a chimney – at the top of a hill. They didn’t have water, so they were digging to try to block the fire. And it got around them. The fire shelter is the very last resort. They don’t use it unless there are no other options.
So, as the ground they were crouching on reached 300 degrees, they were squirming into giant metallic bags. Ever bake something – fish, a potato – in an aluminum-foil jacket? Like that.
Go watch the NBC Nightly News piece here. It’s really worth seeing.
“Heroes” is a word that gets thrown around so much that it’s lost its meaning. So I won’t use it. I’ll just say that this story made me cry. It made me very grateful that there are people like those twelve guys. And it made me remember that most of what I worry about isn’t important at all.
Also, to be media-geeky for a second, I love that the photo was so memorable that it was the impetus for the TV report. I hope Karen Tapia-Anderson from the LA Times wins the Pulitzer she deserves.