Summer and drought came much earlier this year [en Espagne] assume numerous, strong and large-scale fires. Everyone knows about it. Especially forest firefighters. The vegetation is so dry that it can catch fire at the slightest opportunity. Everyone knows this. On this day, Agustín Narvaez, Paco Cantero and Carlos Sandes will go towards the fire, and everyone will run away in the opposite direction. Because it’s their job.

In their barracks in Cartama, province of Malaga, they, along with the other nine members of their brigade, wait on the walkie-talkie – or, these days, anyone with a mobile phone – to tell them: “do it fast” All of their gear is in their lockers: a backpack with tools, water, flashlights, an energy bar or packets of dried fruit in case supplies are slow to arrive, parts for a chainsaw, a change of clothes in case they have to sleep outside. Cantero, their leader, also has three transceivers and several batteries so he and his men won’t be left without power when they “up there”.

The helicopter that will take them to the intervention site – anywhere in Andalusia – is ready to take off. An alarm can be raised by the headquarters of Seville, a ranger from an observation tower, a local resident or a motorist. The firefighters would then have to pack up and take off in less than fifteen minutes. Helicopter brigades like the Cantero brigade are the equivalent of the elite troops of the Andalusian army of forest firefighters, numbering over 4,500. Therefore, they are sent to the most inaccessible and dangerous places.

Green T-shirt and Olive Pants

If you want to know what they look like, forget the image of the 1.90-meter handsome guy who could pose in the calendar. Agustín Narváez is 52 years old, a short stocky man with black hair and very dark skin. 55-year-old Carlos Sandez is slimmer. Paco Cantero is the youngest: he is 47 years old. They were born in the villages around Malaga and know the mountain like the back of their hand.

First of all, these are strong people, laconic and endowed with incredible abilities for resistance and endurance, the necessary characteristics when it is necessary to go to fight fire in the mountains and put it out. That it needs to be isolated, approaching it little by little from the flanks, stopping its progress, stealing its fuel (branches, brushwood, dry grass), and all this in full sun, at a temperature of 40 ° C, 45 ° C and above. If this sounds difficult in theory, it is even worse in practice.

Everyone wears the same green T-shirt as Infoca. [dispositif de lutte contre les incendies de forêt de la région autonome d’Andalousie], the same olive green pants, the same all-terrain rangers. On average, they are paid 1600 euros per month.

Until April 15, they carried out preventive tasks in the mountains of the region. But given the frightening amount of woodland already reduced to ash, the early onset of the heat wave and the bleak outlook hanging over the forests this year, Infoca has raised the risk level and asked all firefighters to be ready to intervene. And Andalusian