Many of us struggled to adapt to home working and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. But the few remaining fire lookouts of the U.S. Forest Service often live and work for weeks at a time on their own, scouring the horizon for any hint of smoke from remote lookout towers.
Kelsey Sims was at home in Ohio at the start of the pandemic. The 26-year-old had previously worked as a firefighter, spending two years on fire engines in wild areas of Montana, but had recently lost her job and had no idea what to do next.
“I applied and got a job here in New Mexico,” she says, on the phone from her lookout tower in the south-western state. She flew out just as states began to impose strict measures to combat the spread of Covid.