Boy Scouts say there is no official merit badge for fighting a wildfire, but they don’t care. They knocked down a small wildfire only with what they brought camping.
Last Monday they were on a backpacking trip in the Central Cascades when they spotted smoke.
“So this is what started the fire,” Lincoln Saad, 11, said.
“No, this was,” Timmy Brock, 11, corrected him as he pointed to another tree.
The cause of the fire is undetermined, according to a Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest spokesperson, who says two firefighters hiked into the forest to finish extinguishing the one-tenth of an acre fire the next day.
“Plan for the worst; hope for the best. Scout’s motto is: be prepared. Luckily we had lots of pots,” troop historian Jesse Ferguson, 13, said.
The three boys, along with five other scouts in West Seattle’s troop 282 and a few of their parents, put out a wildfire near Lower Tuscohatchie Lake. They were on a five-day backpacking trip when they spotted smoke and quickly formed a bucket brigade using the pots to fight the fire.
“There would be a guy at the water and he would be passing it over to the next guy, then put it out and then pass it back,” the boys demonstrated passing pots and Nalgene bottles, whatever they could find in their campsite that held water.
Jesse’s father Nathan Ferguson said the flames were approximately three feet high and it took the boys and adults about two hours to knock them down.
“The fire was very close to a heavily treed area with a lot of flammable material. If they would not have found this when they did, it could have been much worse,” Lincoln’s father Jonathan Saad said, explaining he used a satellite phone to call for help.
Ferguson and Saad say they hiked back to the burn area at night to continue extinguishing embers while the boys slept at the campground a quarter-mile away.
“No,” the boys said in unison when asked if they were scared.
They said they learned a lot about each other during the trip: “bravery, courage, helpful and kind.” They also learned another method to fight fires that has yet to make it into their Boy Scouts’ handbook.
“Our first reaction was like, ‘Does anybody need to go to the restroom?’” Lincoln said. “Timmy and I actually put out a fire with our No. 1.”