Fire spotters not ready to flame out

Leif Haugen, who has worked for more than half of his 52 years as a fire lookout, drinking his morning coffee at the Thoma lookout in Flathead National Forest. — ©2023 The New York Times Company

IF, on a hot, dry day a fire should break out within a certain 121,000ha patch of northwest Montana, in an expanse of backcountry between the crest of the Whitefish Range and the glacier-carved peaks that hug the Continental Divide, there’s a good chance Leif Haugen will be the first person on Earth to see it.

For the better part of an hour, he might be the only person.

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