The sun is still high in the Alaskan summer sky when the call comes in at 9:47 p.m.
Sirens wail, and eight smokejumpers race to the suit-up racks. Already in logger’s boots, dark green pants, and bright yellow shirts, each man practically leaps into his Kevlar jumpsuit.
“First load to the box!” a voice blares over the intercom. Itchy, Bloemker, O’Brien, Dibert, Swisher, Koby, Swan, Karp, and Cramer are the men at the top of the jump list. All evening they’ve mostly been hanging around the operations desk at their base at Fort Wainwright, cracking jokes and razzing each other, anxiously and excitedly waiting for their turn to leap out of a plane to fight a backcountry forest fire.