Fighting Forest Fires with @GreggBoydston

Earlier this month, 19 hotshots—firefighters that specialize in containing forest fires—were killed while battling a fire that destroyed hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of forest near the small Arizona town of Yarnell. All across the American west, these small, elite units are dispatched to contain and extinguish fires before they spread to inhabited areas.

Gregg Boydston (@greggboydston) is one such firefighter stationed in Oregon who has been sharing photos and providing insight into his job through Instagram.

Initially, it was the beauty of his surroundings and his love of nature that inspired Gregg to post photos from the field. “It was really hard not to share, mainly because of some of the gorgeous places we get to go. Our 20-person crew is available through the entire fire season to go anywhere in the nation.” As others began to find and comment on his photos, however, Boydston realized Instagram was “a good way to share what hotshot crews are all about.”

"This is definitely the hardest yet most rewarding job I have ever had," says Gregg. "Shifts often go 16 hours a day with less than five hours of sleep." Despite the demands, working with a small crew builds camaraderie, and Boydston is excited by the opportunity to share his experiences and passion with others all around the world: "I can give people a behind the scenes look at fighting fires for the Forest Service and protecting the landscapes people love so much."