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Rosalie Oxford, IL, and Ray Norton are the winners!

Smokejumpers is the answer for Week 338 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

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Monday: A quicker way

Tuesday: Special skills

Wednesday: From the sky

Smokejumpers have been a part of wildfire fighting on National Forests since July of 1940 when Rufus Robinson and Earl Cooley made the first "live" parachute jump into a fire on the Nez Perce National Forest. According to the Grangeville Dispatch web site (, the two were stationed at the Moose Creek Airstrip at the time.

The Forest Service web site at:, adds that Robinson, of Kooskia, and Cooley of Hamilton, MT, made the nation's first "live" fire jump, at the Martin Creek Fire on July 12, 1940. Robinson's and Cooley's squad had been positioned by the Region One Smokejumper Program at the remote Moose Creek Ranger Station, where a parachute loft was built in 1941 to better accommodate smokejumper operations in this vicinity.

In 1951 the Region One jumpers established a base at Grangeville in order to facilitate initial attack operations across the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests and on adjacent lands. In 1972, however, the Nez Perce National Forest assumed direct administration of the Grangeville unit, with Geof Hochmuht hired in the spring of 1973 as the first "Grangeville Smokejumper" rookie. Since the subsequent combination of fire management operations on the Nez Perce and Clearwater Forests, the Grangeville Smokejumper program has remained under the administrative auspices of the Nez Perce-Clearwater fire management zone.

Over 7,000 fire jumps have been made out of Grangeville since the establishment of smokejumper operations there in 1951. In busier seasons the base provides aerial delivery of firefighters to well over 100 incidents, with the number of jumpers per fire averaging around 3.5.

At present there are about 30 smokejumpers at the Grangeville Air Center (GAC) making it one of the smaller bases in the smokejumping world. GAC is home to a DeHaviland Twin Otter Jump Plane (Jump 14). A helitack program is next door and several other aviation fire fighting options fly the area as well, according to the Grangeville Dispatch site.

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