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Fire lookout and TikTok star Kelsey Simms gets her audience thinking about wildfires » Yale Climate Connections


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Some TikTok stars spend their days perfecting dance moves or comedy sketches to share in their next video.

But TikTokker Kelsey Sims spends her time scanning the New Mexico horizon for distant plumes of smoke.

She works for the Forest Service as a fire lookout. She lives in a small tower in the wilderness.

“I pretty much spend almost all of my time upstairs with my dog and my binoculars looking for fires,” Sims says.

And she shares videos about her work on a TikTok account with more than 170,000 followers.

A lot of her videos are funny and light-hearted takes on life in a 14-by-14 foot room with no running water — for example, a tour of her outhouse.

But she also uses her platform to educate people about the growing danger of wildfire. Conditions are getting hotter and drier.

“Our fire seasons are becoming longer and more intense,” she says. “And so fire lookouts are becoming more and more important because fires could pop off any time and be more destructive than before.”

So she provides a rare glimpse into life on the front lines of wildfire prevention — and some cute videos of her dog, too.

Read: Wildfires and climate change: What’s the connection?

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media



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