NEAR SWEET HOME, Ore. - Fighting fires is kind of like being in war.
"It's kind of putting your life on the line to help other people out," said Tobi Beavers, a fire school attendee. "I honestly wouldn't want it any other way. It's what I'm used to and it's what I enjoy."
For the past week, multiple agencies have been training new firefighters in Sweet Home. Friday's culmination of that training included battling real blazes on a rural piece of timberland.
"It's just neat to see their excitement especially today," said Paul Hiebert, Incident Commander for fire school, of the trainees. Firefighting trainees have camped all week at Sweet Home High School, then school buses took them to the fire site Friday morning.
"When they come out and they see smoke and flames, and all of a sudden, reality hits...Up to this point, they've just been watching videos and reading books, and today's really a culmination of a week-long effort to get these kids where they need to be," said Hiebert.
Some trainees could be sent to fight fires in Colorado, Montana or Idaho as early as this weekend.
"These folks will be going with very seasoned folks, so they'll be a few amongst many, many highly experienced firefighters. We watch their back," said Hiebert.
"I really don't think there's any fear for us," said Beavers, who has served in Iraq twice with the Army National Guard. "If something does happen to us, it happens to us. We've all got that mentality."
"I hate to say it, I'm an adrenaline junkie, so this is what it's all about right here," said Beavers.
"I like the thrill of fire," said recent Northwest Christian University graduate and trainee Skyler Bascom. That thrill has brought Bascom back to the job for his third year this summer. But for him, it's more than just the battle.
"You give back to the community," he said. "I played sports here and a lot of those local communities funded our sporting and stuff, and so when we're fighting fires, doing initial attack, we're helping local communities, local loggers."