Fires started by lightning often erupt in very remote, mountainous parts of the state, far from any roads. Sometimes the only way to get fire crews to them is to have them jump out of planes. It takes a special breed to jump (a) out of a perfectly good airplane, and (b) into an active fire zone. But smokejumpers have been doing it for decades.
From 1,500 feet above the Sierra Nevada, the trees are bushy green dots and everything on the ground blends together. Standing out in this sea of green is a stream of dark smoke snaking up from the forest. Lightning hit here moments ago and sparked a fire.