'Organized chaos': An inside look at the Eagle Creek fire camp

Behind the scenes at fire camp

HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- You could call it a “little city.” That’s one way fire information officer Brienne Pettit described the Eagle Creek wildfire camp at the Hood River County fairgrounds. 

For now, the fairgrounds is home to over 900 firefighters battling the blaze burning along the gorge.

“It’s basically to set up a home away from home for these guys that are doing all of the work on the ground,” she said.

On Tuesday, KGW received a tour of the fire camp. There’s much more to the large set up than small sleeping tents and fire engines, of course. At the incident base, fire fighters receive three meals a day, shower, get briefed on daily operations, and even do laundry.

Photos: Eagle Creek fire camp

The dining area isn’t hard to miss. On Tuesday, the catering company contracted to feed the camp was preparing 1,110 pounds of ribs inside a large commercial smoker.

“These [firefighters] are burning a lot of energy out there, so we want to make sure they’re well nourished,” said Pettit.

The firefighters receive a full breakfast each morning before grabbing lunches to take to the fire lines. Once they come back, a well-earned hearty meal will be waiting. There’s plenty of variety, too.

“Chicken cordon bleu, steak, prime rib. Pretty much anything we can get our hands on,” said caterer Zach Jennings.

Also notable is the supply section of the camp. Everything from brand new firefighting tools to sleeping bags are readily available for firefighters. Also stocked were plenty spare sets of protective clothing and fire shelters.

Hard to miss as well was the medical and communications area inside a fair building. Medical staff there are always prepared to treat injured firefighters with several supplies on hand.

It’s worth noting that a fire camp like the one at the fairgrounds can be set up within 48 hours.

“I like to look at it as organized chaos. There’s always a system for everything we do,” said Pettit. “And when it comes into place, and you stand on the ground and you watch it come together, and it happens so fast. It’s really cool to see.”

Fire crews emphasized that they wanted to thank the fairgrounds for hosting them as well.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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