Take a tour through ‘Creek Fire Camp’ where firefighters seek solace
December 8, 2017 | Administrator
As the Creek fire burned nearby and other wildfires smoldered throughout the region, the North Valley Military Institute band of Sun Valley played renditions of “Uptown Funk” for first responders during breakfast hours Friday while King Taco had free tacos for lunch.
And in between the feedings and daily briefings, fire personnel just tried to get some sleep or shower in white trailers.
“We got a large city going right here,” said Scott Visyak, a fire captain/paramedic for the Calfire/Riverside County Fire Department of what he called “Creek Fire Camp.” The Creek fire camp was set up the afternoon of Dec. 5 when the fire erupted above Sylmar.
“They started setting it up once they realized this would go beyond the extended attack period which is about 12 hours,” according to Visyak.
Three firefighters who were at the camp from the Daly City Fire Department in San Mateo County said their morale was good and were enjoying their time at the camp since their arrival Tuesday to help with firefighting efforts.
“It’s all pretty streamlined,” said firefighter James Galvis, 30, of Pleasant Hill. “As far as food, you got a kitchen right there, if you need supplies, you got medical, whatever else as far as going out on the line.”
Higaki, 36, of Half Moon Bay described it as a “self-sufficient little city” including showers and a doctor.
— Wes Woods II (@JournoWes) December 8, 2017
“Everything you possibly need is here,” Higaki noted.
Jonathan Pryor, 32, of El Dorado Hills added firefighters could sleep indoors in a three-person high trailer or put up their own tent.
Different trailers offered diverse services on Friday.
One white trailer that simply said “Radio Repairs/Radio Cloning” took radios used in the field and “coded” them so everyone could communicate using the same frequencies.
“Every radio will get a box of batteries,” Visyak said. “Because it takes about 10 double A batteries to run one of our radios. … Now remember there’s three guys on an engine and everybody has a radio so that’s a lot of batteries.”
Meanwhile, Janice Petersen of Riverside ran the medical support trailer as fire personnel lined up outside for items ranging from wipes to soap or eye drops.
“We’re a CVS on wheels,” said Petersen, the medical unit leader as she worked to fill orders. “We probably serviced about 300 (Thursday) and at least that (Friday afternoon). We have over-the-counter supplies. Primarily it’s specific things like poison ivy soap. I have local burn stuff and a lot of bandaging and first-aid supplies. They can’t just go to CVS. … CVS will have one or two and we have 3,000 guys here.”
Fire officials keep track of what’s being taken as they can discover if there’s any sort of potential illness issues, Visyak added.
“Every trip (for a fire) I’ve been on there’s never been any negativity it’s always positive and everyone’s just trying to help each other,” Galvis said of the treatment he’s experienced.
“The local people we come in contact with are always super appreciative, thanking us and making you feel good.” Pryor agreed.
A vocalist and electric saxophonist for the Sun Valley band described the experience as an “awesome” one.
“It’s wonderful to be able to come out here and see how they’re holding up during this major fire,” said seventh-grader Sasha Murray, 12, of Pacoima. “And I’m so grateful for all the firefighters, all the policemen and even the people that are in jail right now helping fighting the fires.
“It’s just amazing to have the courage to run straight for the fire instead of running away from it,” she continued. “It’s really encouraging. I just look up to them.”
— Wes Woods II (@JournoWes) December 8, 2017
The performance was a first for Visyak who said he enjoyed listening to the music during breakfast Friday.
“At all the fires I’ve been to this is the first time I’ve actually heard a band come in and do this it was very quite relaxing,” the captain said.
The appearance of King Taco drew a large line of people waiting for flavorful tacos including the three Daly City firefighters who quickly devoured them.
In another show of goodwill in Los Angeles, the Getty Center staff gave a surprise breakfast to more than 200 firefighters who were there for a break from the Skirball fire.
The Creek fire had burned more than 15,000 acres and destroyed 65 structures, and damaged nearly 50 others.