One rotation done; one to go. As you read this we’re mid-way through two days of R&R in Roseville, a small city about a 30-minute drive from Sacramento.
It’s been an opportunity to rest up, reflect and recharge, but the first priority was a beer, a shower and bed - not necessarily in that order. Who’d have thought the prospect of clean sheets and clean air would be so alluring?
After almost two weeks on the frontline we’ve started to become accustomed to the extreme conditions here, but the scale of the fires we’re fighting still takes your breath away.
The Mendocino Complex Fire has now burnt almost 400,000 acres. The fire front is spread over 90,000 acres. The Carr Fire has burnt more than 225,000 acres and the Crescent Mountain Fire in Washington, to which two of our people have been deployed, has consumed about 24,000 acres.
We live in camps that have everything needed to provision thousands of firefighters. (Most of us are now over the novelty of cooked breakfasts served by local prison inmates and go straight for the self service fruit bar). Smoke and dust are a constant, but the experience is invaluable.
The scale of the firefighting operations is as impressive as the scale of the fires – DC10 jet planes dumping 8000 gallons of water at a time, Chinook twin rotor and Black Hawk helicopters, and hose lines up to 6000 feet in length.
The public remain extremely appreciative. A bridge near our camp is bedecked with thank you signs and there are free food stalls for firefighters on street corners.
It’s also been a treat to work with firefighters from other parts of the world. Firefighters are cut from the same cloth everywhere and we work well together. Of course, we’re particularly enjoying the opportunity to commiserate with our Aussie mates about an event that took place at ANZ stadium in Sydney on Saturday evening. Go the ABs at Eden Park on Saturday!
here exactly we end up will depend on what’s happened with the fires while we’ve been away on a break, but chances are it’ll be the same vicinity. These beasts will keep burning till the weather changes. Our job is to help contain them till that happens.
Messages of thanks:
“Dear Australian and New Zealand Firefighters, we heard in the newspaper about you all coming to the US to help fight wildfires. Even though our small town is not in any danger right now, it could be at any time. So we just want you all to know how much we appreciate you leaving your own home to come half way across the world to help.
We assisted 'down under' & New Zealand some years ago & we were so welcomed. We loved being there & think of the people we met often. So we also feel a kinship with you and send over very sincere hopes and prayers for a safe & successful trip for each and every one of you!” - Pat & Harry, Loomis California
“Dear New Zealand firefighters, on behalf of my family and friends affected by the Carr Fire in Shasta/Trinity counties, California: Thank you for coming to help us. We appreciate your willingness to come to California, and pray for your safe return to New Zealand. To the families of the fire fighters- I can assure you from first-hand experience that firefighters are treated like royalty on the West Coast. Our lives and property are on the line, and we greatly value their hard work and dedication.” Sent via Facebook