Hinman Park Angie Carl is running for a county commissioner's seat back home. But campaign stumping will have to wait. Carl is miles from the voters of Allen County, Ind., fighting fires in another county where most people probably wouldn't recognize her name.
She serves with the Indiana Agency firefighters that arrived last Sunday to fight the Hinman fire.
It's a job that entails long hours in the heat, dirt, wind and fire, of course.
Some might call it thankless, but for the thousands of men and women assigned to fires across the western United States, it's some of the most gratifying work they've done.
College students and professionals from around the country trade in their books and desks every summer for the chance to get their hands dirty working on a fire.
People assigned to the Hinman fire represent such states as Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Florida, South Dakota and Colorado.
Carl is in her second summer of working on wildland fires.
"I'm not a rookie anymore," she said, smiling.
Back home in Fort Wayne, the 27-year-old is in charge of a prescribed burning program.
Her reasons for leaving fire to fight fire?
"I like fire," she said.
Jim Bush of Evansville, Ind., works with Carl on a six-person squad.
Bush, 38, is a personal trainer when he's not tromping through burning embers.
A Reader's Digest article on wildland fires several years ago peaked his interest in joining a fire crew. Bush's first time on a fire came in the summer of 1998, and he has not yet found a reason to abandon such a rewarding line of work, he said.
Although firefighters hail from different backgrounds and regions, they eventually learn to trust the strangers who work alongside them, strike team leader Mike Huneke said.
A high level of trust develops among crews because the people called to work a fire are trained and qualified to fill their position, he said.
"Everyone knows their role," he said. "You have to trust the people you're with."
Huneke, 32, of Whitewood, Md., helps private landowners with conservation easements on their land, but he values the opportunity to head west for the summer to work on larger fires that are not usually seen in the East.
The only drawback for many people who spend their summers fighting fires is the family they leave behind.
Steve Siscoe will not see his two children and wife for another month. He counts the days until he can see his family in Indiana again. But he knows he has a job to do and can't think of a more exciting way to spend his summer.
Firefighters admit the long days wear them out. They work 14 days before getting a much-deserved break.
Crews assigned to the Hinman fire begin their day at about 6 a.m. and return to camp at about 7 p.m., then grab a hot meal and bunk down for the night.
It's not for everybody, Carl and Bush said.
But for those at the forefront of the fire day in and day out, it's an offer they can't refuse.
"This is my family," Carl said, motioning to her team.