After another night of battling the Goose Fire, Alaskan firefighter Andres Ocozco got needed rest Wednesday in the tent city set up at Sierra High School.
“It’s nice to have a good meal that’s ready to go after a hard day out in the field,” he said. “It feels good to be taken care of.”
Sierra High has been transformed this week into the temporary home for more than 1,700 firefighters who have been working to contain the blaze near Prather.
The school was set up as a base camp Sunday morning after the Goose Fire started the day before. The fire has since burned more than 2,200 acres. At least four homes have burned down, but 80 percent of the blaze was contained by Thursday morning.
Some firefighters are being housed in hotels in Fresno. But most are at Sierra High.
The base camp is equipped with 20 portable showers, a laundry, 15 large sleeping tents and four mobile homes. It also has a kitchen, medical center and a financial unit.
There is no such thing as running out of food.
Cal Fire Public Information Officer Mike Yeun
The campus is a good place for the firefighters’ village. Each air-conditioned classroom is being used as offices for fire chiefs and public information staff.
Breakfast and dinner are served daily. Wednesday morning’s meal consisted of eggs, bacon, ham and choices from the salad bar. Water and sports drinks are available at every meal.
“There is no such thing as running out of food. We don’t go short for firemen,” said Cal Fire Public Information Officer Mike Yeun.
Dinner is served by firefighters, including 24 male and female inmates. These prisoners completed a two-week course on fire training, passing hiking and written tests.
“We treat them like firefighters and they act like firefighters,” said Yeun.
“Tonight’s meal will be for about 1,000 firefighters, and it’ll be ribs. For dessert, root beer floats,” said Cal Fire Capt. Carl Coultress.
The firefighters work in 24-hour shifts and are usually able to eat breakfast at the base camp and breakfast again the next morning when they come back, explained Coultress. Lunches get packed for delivery out to the field.
I love the experience of working with everyone.
Firefighter Martin Duran
Yeun said that, through midday Wednesday, there had been no injuries among the firefighters.
“We are big on safety. We are big on taking care of our own. And we are big on being sufficient,” said Yeun.
If efforts to control the fire continue to succeed, the camp is expected be taken down by Saturday.
Cal Fire firefighter Martin Duran will remember working on the Goose Fire. “I love the experience of working with everyone. It’s always a good time and everyone here has treated me well,” Duran said as he sat with friends in the shade outside a classroom.