(Think Progress) -- Dan Oltrogge started fighting wildfires in 1984. By the time he retired from the National Park Service in 2011, he had served as the head of fire and aviation at Grand Canyon National Park, as the commander of one of the nation’s 20 Type One incident management teams that respond to the largest fires, and as one of just four area commanders in the federal incident management system.
Starting around 2000, Oltrogge began experiencing fires of a scale and intensity he never expected to encounter. Fires like the Rodeo-Chediski in Arizona in 2002 — at 467,000 acres, the largest in the state’s history — and 9 years later the Wallow, which surpassed the Rodeo-Chediski and set a new state record of 538,000 acres.
“We never imagined we would be on a fire of a half million acres in the lower 48,” said Oltrogge. “Now they’re becoming commonplace.”
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