PHOTOS: Inmates help firefighting efforts at Boulder Creek’s Panther Ridge fire
Lookout photography contributor Kevin Painchaud followed five inmate crews from Ben Lomond Conservation Corp. No. 45 through the Panther Fire this week, producing these striking images.
When nearly two dozen wildfires of varying sizes sparked across Santa Cruz County earlier this week, five engines from Ben Lomond Conservation Corp. No. 45 were dispatched to aid firefighting efforts at the Panther Ridge Fire in Boulder Creek.
The 12-member crew consisted of all inmates from the California Correctional Center in Susanville. The crew also had two Cal Fire captains.
Only inmates with a sentence of five years or less can join firefighting crews. Each undergoes four weeks of training before being dispatched to fire zones. Post-incarceration, many former inmates have gone on to be employed by Cal Fire and the United States Forest Service.
Lookout photographer Kevin Painchaud spent Wednesday following one of the crews as they extinguished hotspots Wednesday. A look at their work through his lens: