They're part of California's conservation camp program, which takes convicts out of jail cells and puts them on the front lines of wildfires, where they earn $1 an hour cutting containment lines that keep flames from spreading.
"They are in the thick of it," said Capt. Jorge Santana of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The agency has sent 621 men and 52 women to tackle the so-called Rim Fire, which has engulfed nearly 300 square miles of land in 12 days. More have been deployed to 20 other fires across the state.
"They work 24-hour shifts," Santana said. "They sleep in tents at base camp. They work side-by-side with other firefighters.
Read the whole story: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/...blaze?lite