Forest smokejumpers attend film’s opening day

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat /

The Stanislaus National Forest is using the release of "Planes 2: Fire and Rescue" - a movie with a striking resemblance to the Rim Fire - to get out the word about its "One Less Spark" fire prevention campaign.

The agency got a few of the U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers to explain their jobs, show off their gear and answer questions from children and adults on opening day Friday at Regal Cinema 10 in Sonora.

The smokejumpers - based in Redding but currently stationed at the Columbia Air Attack Base - are parachute firefighters who fight remote fires. They were consulted three years ago by Disney Studio staff in the making of the animated film, according to smokejumper Tye Erwin.

The Disney team conducted interviews and took footage to be recreated digitally, he said.

The smokejumpers are represented by talking bulldozers in the film, which features a devastating wildfire in a fictional national park, called Piston Peak.

Although the full movie seems to reveal more references to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, some of the advertisements could easily be taken for Yosemite National Park - with great granite boulders and pine trees.

Many familiar-sounding references remained, including a train labeled "Muir" and a wildfire caused by an escaped campfire.

For the complete story, see the July 22, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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