What does it take to keep McHugh Creek Fire crews going?
In the last 48 hours, Goldenview Middle School has turned into an incident command center for the McHugh Creek Fire. More than 30 people work around the clock to keep firefighters going.
Kale Casey, a firefighter for more than a decade, took KTVA on a tour of the post’s day-to-day operations.
“This is part of what the facilities unit does, is they put up all these great signs,” said Casey, pointing to a slaw of yellow signs with arrows stuck to the wall with blue duct tape. “So that people know where to go.”
Accountability is key, Casey explains, referring to a table marked “Check – in.” He said there are no volunteers fighting the fire. Every firefighter must check in and their credentials have to check out.
“Each person has their own government card that reflects what’s in the computer,” said Casey, pulling out his wallet to show his own card as an example.
Another reason for the check-in station is to electronically keep track of the hours each crew works. Firefighters may work up to 16-hour days, for 14 days at a time.
But they’ve got to know where they’re going — that’s where another team comes in. Giant maps line the walls of a room just around the corner. There, an entire group works carefully, late into the night to track each of the fire’s movements, and any progress made.
“We’re going to start to see that black line increase in distance from this anchor,” said Casey, pointing to an area along the Seward Highway on one of the maps. “That’s where we get to the point where the division supervisor who’s working this section believes that the fire cannot jump out and hit the road there.”
Normally crews would camp near the fire, but Casey explains that McHugh Creek is too steep. So part of the command center’s job is to make sure they have everything they need at Goldenview.
From gear to food, everything is accounted for, so firefighters can focus on the flames.
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