Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Kitchen at Castle Rock Fire

These are the first fire camp kitchen photographs that I've found this summer ...

Fire crews completed hand lines and bulldozer lines around the Castle Rock Wildland Fire this morning. The 48,520-acre has burned in the Sawtooth National Forest in south-central Idaho. Mop up and rehabilitation of the burned area will continue. Lightening ignited the fire on August 16, 2007.

Next to the smoke and yellow glow of the fire line, the camp is one of the most visible aspects of any firefighting operation. A camp can grow from a few tents to a bustling city within a days.

All aspects of logistic support for the fire are centered out of the fire camp, which is located at the Upper River Run ski area, just south of Ketchum. The camp is the domain of the of the vast logistics apparatus, led by Logistics Section Chief John Olney.

The Idaho Mountain Express reported that Olney's workforce of 150 men and women erected the camp "in under three days." Like any small city, this one has all the essential services you'd expect, including a state-of-the-art kitchen.

The job of feeding 1,640 firefighter and support personnel (called "overhead" in fire lingo) fell to Incident Catering Services, a mobile catering company from Snohomish, Washington. The Idaho Mountain Express reported on Wednesday, August 29, 2007:

The Food Unit, headed up by Danny Fox, sent 245 hot dinners out to firefighters on the line last night, via helicopter. They then served 1,280 meals at the camp, after dishing out 3,350 sandwiches at lunch.

"Today we served 13,000 lbs of food," explained Ray Keener, owner of Incident Catering Services of Seattle. "At breakfast we went through 500 lbs of eggs and 450 lbs of sausage."

Dinner tonight is lasagna, and the smell of tomatoes and garlic wafting from the kitchen in Upper River Run parking lot is a welcome respite from the constant charred smell of burning trees.

"You have to have a passion to feed people, take care of people," explained Keener, when asked how he manages his demanding role. "Or else you have to be nuts!"
Photo credit goes to Pat York and Gary Chase (second picture).

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