From the starting line to the fire line


Contributed by Maddie Montero

Former California Lutheran University Track and Field runner Maddie Montero fighting California wildfires.

Erica Gaertner, Reporter

Former California Lutheran University Track & Field runner Maddie Montero followed in her sister’s footsteps by becoming a Wildland Firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Nevada.

“I loved Track & Field in High School, so it was something I decided to continue since I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life right after high school,” Montero said.

Montero said she knew college was not the right path for her, so after a year at Cal Lutheran she took off to New Zealand.

“There [in New Zealand] I worked on an Amazon [Prime Video] show called The Wilds as a cast and crew driver where I was also able to work towards getting into stunts,” Montero said. “My goal was to do stunt riding for the new Amazon Lord of the Rings TV show, which I was able to [accomplish] during my time there.”

Montero’s time in New Zealand only recently came to an end when the pandemic shook the world.

When Montero went home to her family’s ranch in Nevada, she began training to become a firefighter. There was a lot of dedication involved with preparing for the job, including a healthier and highly-active lifestyle, Montero said.

Now that she is an active firefighter, Montero said her favorite part about her job is the adrenaline and conducting prescribed burns.

Prescribed burning is “a planned fire used to meet management objectives,” according to the USDA.

“More prescribed fires mean fewer extreme wildfires,” the USDA website states.Specialists write burn plans for prescribed fires. Prescribed fire specialists compare conditions on the ground to those outlined in burn plans before deciding whether to burn on a given day.”

Montero said one of her career goals is to work in the aviation area of firefighting. Firefighters are repelled down from helicopters to land to help save people who need to be evacuated from fires.

“The benefit of the rescue missions is the fact that firefighters do not have to then hike five hours through the mountains somewhere to save hikers or people who live in remote locations that the fires reach,” Montero said.

In training to become a firefighter, Montero returned to physical demands similar to her Track & Field days at Cal Lutheran.

“I would try to run between 1.5 to 4 miles a day, hike at least a mile and a big thing was eating healthy and drinking a gallon of water a day,” Montero said.