Forty metres above the forest, searching for smoke

This network of 22 watchtowers dotted the forest in Gironde, southern France, is the first line of defense against wildfires, which can start with just a puff of smoke over the horizon. Escutia, a former salesman, has a contract with the fire service to work in the tower for six months, during the summer fire season, but he also works off-contract as a volunteer . He is in his fourth year in the fire service. When the July fires got really bad, a handful of times Escutia finished her tower shift at 10 p.m. and joined the frontline firefighters at midnight, changing shifts until 7 a.m., then then returned to the watchtower at 10 a.m. “I don’t sleep very much,” he said with a laugh.

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