GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.– Wake-up call is at 6 in the morning for some firefighters and support crew on the east side of the Pine Gulch Fire. The early start to their day is crucial for the firefighters battling the flames, which grew almost 40,000 acres over night. These firefighters work for up to 16 hours a day for 2 weeks straight. At night, they camp a distance away from the fire, and in the morning, it’s straight back to work. The support crew works right along side them.
“Right now we have a variety of jobs,” says Keith Plagemann, the Logistics Section Chief 2 of the Pine Gulch Fire. “Mainly logistical support from food, communication, facility and camp maintenance, ground support and transportation,” he says.
As fires spring up across other western states, resources across the country are dwindling. Firefighters may have to work for up to 21 days straight. But one firefighter, Taylor Miller, says she and her colleagues are finding ways to keep their morale high.
“For the most part we have a really good support network here, and then people at home have been reaching out and just making sure that everyone is doing ok,” she says.
Plagemann says the best way for the community to help the firefighters is to continue to show them their support.
“They give up a lot of family time,” explains Plagemann. “Their family waits two states, three states over. But seeing that support, it’s another family here and that’s something that’s very much appreciated,” he says.