Where firefighters seek rest: ‘This area is almost a little bit sacred’

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TOLLHOUSE, California (KGPE) – It’s been three weeks since the Creek fire began.  Fire crews are on the line days on end and need rehabilitation.  At their campsite, the engine staging area is where crews first arrive when they come off the fire line and can start to wind down after long, hard days of work.

“This area is almost a little bit sacred,” said Chris Vestal, the Captain & PIO for the Creek Fire.  

The camp is a place to get some rest, some food, get cleaned up and gear up to get back out and fight fires.

“Not only could we be back on the fire line tomorrow, we could get reassigned to a new incident.  People have been working for weeks on end right now,” Vestal said.

Engineer Jaime Harris, a firefighter with the Fresno Kings unit, just worked for days on the fire line and a 42-bed trailer with close quarters will provide some much needed rest.

“We go through long periods of time without any sleep,” said Harris.

Firefighters push it to the limit, not only physically, but emotionally.

“We try so hard and it’s rough when you’re trying your best and you can’t save all the houses, but we try really hard,” Harris said.

Doing their best to take care of communities facing disaster–a job made even tougher because of the time spent away from those they love.

 “I’ve got two baby girls–I’ve been away from home for 30 plus days. So just trying to make sure that we have everything taken care of at home, you know, we’re calling our families.”

For the last three weeks this has been home for more than 3,000 firefighters.

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