At 3:30 the morning of September 8th, 2017 the RRT Portland team loaded up refreshments and headed to Hood River Oregon. We arrived at the Hood River Fairground two hours later, where the incident base camp was set up. There were around 1,000 firefighters stationed at the base camp. Crew from all over the country came to support the Oregon based crews in putting out the fire.
The Eagle Creek fire was started on September 2nd, 2017 and only two days later evacuations began being ordered and Interstate 84 was closed from Cascade Locks to Troutdale as the fire spread to 10,000 acres. By September 5th, the Eagle Creek fire joined with the Indian fire covering 30,000 acres. Although the Eagle Creek Fires are not the largest in the country it is considered the number 1 priority in the nation. The reason for this is that it is in a national scenic area, has closed a major interstate in Oregon, threatened the Bull Run Watershed and caused the air in the city of Portland to be filled with smoke and ash.
RRT set up a table with baked goods, granola bars, nuts, fresh fruit and beverages. As crews prepared to head out for the day shift they were glad to see the refreshments and support from RRT. Many of the firefighters have not been home in weeks and were glad to see the aid and encouragement the team offered. While some loaded up their pockets with snacks and beverages to sustain themselves for the day others were simply glad for the smiling faces and conversation. It was amazing to see the crews from all over work together and collaborate in order to achieve the end goal of putting the fire out.
The team provided refreshments until the last crews came in from night shift and headed to bed in the hundreds of tents spread around the camp. Despite the conditions the crews work in they were always ready to head back out and continue to fight the fire. It was amazing to hear the stories the firefighters had of how fast the fire was spreading but through teamwork and persistence they began to contain the fire. They were happy to share their personal experiences and stories and genuinely appreciated the assistance that RRT provided.
Many of the fire chiefs and organizers stopped by the tent and expressed the gratitude saying that “you (RRT) has no idea how much this means to the guys (firefighters) and “we really appreciate you showing up here.” The RRT team will never forget the amazing fortitude and persistence of the firefighters as they put their life on the line to protect the Columbia Gorge National Scenic area and the residence that live there.