The thousands of fires set to clear land for cattle in Brazil's rainforest are widely seen as an environmental disaster. Local ranch hands have more conflicted feelings.

With thousands of intentionally set fires raging across its enormous expanse, Brazil's Amazon rainforest has been a smoky mess in recent weeks: Roads and airports enveloped by a soupy fog. Local governments declaring emergencies and advising people to stay indoors. Many coughing and spitting, their lungs clogged with irritating particles of dust.

For almost everyone who lives and works in the Amazon — as well for environmental activists around the globe — the

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