(REUTERS) Nicole West steered her bulldozer through the smoldering forest, pushing logs into the underbrush and away from the wildfires ripping through Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Her border collie, Oink, rode shotgun as West and a volunteer crew raced to clear a fire line.
Behind West, on the front lines of the 136,000-acre (55,000-hectare) Riverside fire, two young men pulled a water tank behind their pickup truck, struggling to douse the flames.
These are the men and women of the “Hillbilly Brigade” - about 1,200 in all who came together this past week to fight the state’s biggest fire in a century. They are credited with saving the mountain hamlet of Molalla, an hour’s drive south of Portland, after its 9,000 residents were forced to evacuate.
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