Missoulian mailbag
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A few years back, I happened upon a wildfire just starting, by the highway. "This won't take long" I thought, as there were several engines and a helicopter on the scene, and less than an acre burning.

Oops — the chopper dumped its bucket in the middle of the fire. Everyone knows you stop a wildfire at the edges, not the middle. I stopped and watched, amazed at the skill of the pilot as he swooped down and refilled from the nearby river, and gracefully dumped load after load in the middle of the fire.

Then it suddenly made sense! He's not getting paid to put out the fire, he's getting paid to fly the helicopter. If he puts it out in an hour or two, he only gets paid for an hour or two.

That fire went on for months, one of the biggest that year. Explains a lot, doesn't it? Good thing they're all heroes, or someone might think they're in it for the money. How many millions in that firefighting budget?

Daniel Kostelnik,

Missoula

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