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Monday, November 4, 2013

There Really Is A Fire

The next work period we were assigned to structure protection again. And again, we were several miles from any fire. In fact, we still hadn't seen the fire.

Base camp
During the day we were assigned to a larger area than the previous day. We checked out the houses and found one elderly couple that still hadn't been able to clean away all of their pine needles and brush from around the house. It was evident that they had been making an effort but those efforts had fallen short.

Structure protection
Another crew longing to be closer the the fire line.
In talking to the couple we found out that they had been doing a little each day but when the fire started, and the smoke enveloped their house, they found that they couldn't do the work. Each of us on our own had reached the same conclusion. We would be doing some yard work.

Doing work.
We made several piles of pine needles that were well away from the house.

First we finished checking all of the other houses to which we were assigned. Then we went back and helped the aging grandparents clean up their yard. We managed to get all of the pine needles into neat piles away from the house when we were pulled back to the staging area by our strike team leader.

En route to our new assignment.

We had a new assignment. One involving fire (at least more than we had seen so far).

Finally! Active fire.

Our strike team had been reassigned to back up firing operations. There were hot shot crews lighting backfires and it was now our job to make sure those fire didn't jump over the fire line. We spent the rest of the afternoon and all night on this assignment.

The fire.

Late that night I was staring up at the stars and saw something flying in random patterns way above us. As a crew we decided that it must be a drone mapping the fire. About 30 minutes later we heard the radio crackle. "Division Bravo, the drone shows that you have a spot fire about 100 yards over the fire line." That confirmed it.

This was the fire line to which we were assigned.

Whoever was flying the drone was able to pick out the different makes of fire engines on the fire line and was able to direct the nearest crew to the spot fire. That was cool.

The rest of the night we watched our small section of the fire and took turns napping in the rig. When morning finally did come we headed for base camp.

These are some of the pieces of heavy equipment that were being used to make a fire break.

That day we headed back to the same hotel. The staff was really appreciative of the work we were doing so they had a BBQ for us at dinner. Unfortunately for them their BBQ had had enough. Part way through dinner it collapsed. At the end of our deployment we all pitched in and bought them a new one. 
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