VIDEO: Levi Brinegar says, just over four years ago, he was working in a Pennsylvania steel mill when he got an email that changed everything for him.
“It was like, ‘Live on top of a mountain by yourself, spot fires,’” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Yes, please!’” Since 2016, Brinegar has made his home for the summer at the Stonewall Mountain Lookout, a wood and cinder block tower located about 6 miles north of Lincoln. He is one of a small number of people who work three months of the year watching Montana’s mountains for the first signs of wildfires.
At an elevation of 8270 feet, Brinegar is more than an hour away from town by four-wheeler.
“I came from working at a steel mill, around millions of people, to population: 1,” he said.
A lookout’s workday revolves around checking the horizons for columns of smoke.