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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Day Of Rest...And Laundry

After having been on 12 hour work cycles for a while we had just been switched to 24 hour one. It's so much better. Sure you have to work 24 hours straight on the fire line but than....you actually get time for R&R. In a 12 hour cycle you have 12 hours "off." In your off time you have travel time to and from the fire (I've had 2 1/2 hour travel times one way), replenishment of the supplies such as hose that you used, two meals (one as you get off, one before you start), a morning briefing, getting water and lunches for the day, maybe a shower and somewhere in there....sleep. On a 24 hour cycle there's time to do all of those things and get a rest.

Getting laundry washed.

On our first 24 hour rest period we voted, as a strike team, to go get a hotel. We split up two to a room and paid for it out of our own pocket. I took a long hot shower and then went to do laundry. Clean and dry clothes were quickly becoming scarce.

Fire station in old town.

By noon we were clean and ready for some relaxation. We went through the town of Columbia. They have an old western section where you can catch a carriage ride and pan for gold. None of us struck it rich. Columbia is also home to CalFire's air attack base and it was the temporary home for helitack for the Rim Fire. We headed over that way for a look/see.

'Air Attack' coming in for fuel.

At the airport we discovered that we had to walk over to a temporary air control tower to get permission to cross the runway over to the helitack base. Before crossing the runway we had to wait for Air Attack (the guy in the air that controls all airborne resources on the fire). Then we headed over to see the helicopters.

An ANG Blackhawk coming in for landing. Below it on the ground are a Sky Crane and another Blackhawk.

There were 8 UH-60 Blackhawks from the ANG, 1 Bell UH1 Huey for long lining supplies into hand crews, 1 of the S-64 Erickson Sky Cranes, and 1 K-1200 Kaman K-MAX. We were able to watch for an hour or so while helicopters came in, refueled and left. It was a great experience.

Refueling and repairing an ANG Blackhawk.

That evening we had a good meal at one of the local restaurants and then called it a day. We were up and on the road by 5 in the morning for the next shift.
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