Daniel Ross

The drought of 2012 is the worst since the 1950s. With so many scorched acres, wildfires have been steadily burning across the center of the country this summer.

Across the western U.S., wildfires are fought in part by prison inmates. This has been a busy year for these firefighters; in Wyoming, inmates have been dispatched more than 50 times to battle fires in all four corners of the state.

Daniel Ross began working as an inmate firefighter there in 2011. He is a former crystal meth addict who is currently serving time for aggravated assault against a police officer.

At StoryCorps, he remembered his first fire.

Originally aired August 24, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.