A look into a firefighters life on the fire line

Bay Area

SONOMA COUNTY (KRON) – There are more than 4,000 fire crews on the front lines of the Kincade Fire.

All of them are working in tough conditions trying to save homes, properties, and lives.

Taking care of them takes a village.

Base camp is set-up at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

The fire crews have come from coast to coast to be here to knock this destructive fire out.

They sleep, eat, fuel up and get ready for the next round on the fire lines at the base camp.

Thick slices of tri-tip get dished out for dinner prepared by volunteers with World Central Kitchen, the disaster relief organization.

In response to the Kincade Fire, the nonprofit came to serve meals to firefighters and evacuees.

For the past five days, celebrity chef Tyler Florence has led the way.

“So this is what we do like we know how to activate this stuff really well, because it’s almost like as chefs this is our superpower, we know to feed a lot of people quickly,” Florence said.

Cal Fire’s base camp is like a small city at the fairgrounds.

Fireteams from over 200 agencies are helping, including the Bay Area.

After a 24-hour shift on the front lines, firefighters can collect themselves.

One team arrived on Sunday from the Portland area and has seen the worst of it. 

“When it doesn’t get intense that means we are safe and that people can go home to their families and obviously this is a job that can be intense at times and also be to the point that it’s dangerous and people may not come home as we have seen the past couple year,” Captain Ryan Heitschmidt said.

At the base camp, crews can pick up hoses that were just delivered, broken engines in need of repair get fixed, communications get tweaked and radios get tuned so everyone is on the same page.

Cal Fire has gotten good at making operations work smoothly during massive fires.

“I have lots of people saying that they’re getting good rest between work periods, they’re happy about the food, they’re happy about the gratitude of the public that they’ve been receiving so it’s been a positive environment, lots of positive moods going on around here,” Cal Fire spokesperson Mitch Matlow said.

Chef Florence and his team served 7,000 meals on Wednesday.

The bustle in the kitchen means the people who need it most, are getting what they need to stay strong.

“At least they know that someone loves them because they have warm plate of food and that is the most important thing,” Florence said.

The experience means first responders get exactly what they need to keep fighting.

Everything stays in place until the fire is out.

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