Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Kitson fire mobile kitchen

Even though fall is upon us, wildland fire continues to threaten many areas in the Western U.S. The worst is yet to come in some areas, like Southern California. Last year's firestorm didn't explode until October 20-21, 2007.

Late summer and early fall often bring out the most damaging forest fires. A long hot summer of without rain has left the forest and grasslands ripe for fire.

The Kitson fire has burned in the central Cascade Range since the early morning hours of September 24, 2008. Containment of the 800-acre fire, which continues to burn in "old growth timber ... regeneration units, brush and grass," is expected by this Friday, according to

Cooler weather and decreasing winds have helped firefighters who are fighting the burn in Willamette National Forest. The fire is located about six miles southeast of Oakridge, Oregon, on the south side of State Route 58.

The pictured mobile kitchen unit, owned and operated by Stewart's Firefighter Food Catering out of Redmond, Oregon, was feeding about 775 firefighters and support staff as of this morning's update. The culinary crew is operating from the incident base camp, somewhere near the fire.

The Montana Standard published this on the catering company's work at Big Timber, Montana last August:
Food is prepared by a 20-person crew employed with Stewart’s Firefighter Food Catering out of Oregon. It costs about $45 a day to feed one firefighter.

The kitchen crew must be able to serve 350 meals per hour for breakfast and supper, and each meal carries certain dietary requirements, such as serving 10 ounces of meat on each supper plate.

Lunches go out to the fire line in paper sacks. On a recent day, sacks were filled with a sandwich on wheat bread, two boiled eggs, a peach, a candy bar, a roll, a bag of cookies and two juice packs.

Kitchen manager Anita Hyde wakes at 3 a.m. to begin preparing breakfast, and the last of the kitchen crew turns in after 11 p.m. (Diane Cochran, "Wildfire camp a huge undertaking," August 27, 2008)
Hyde divides her staff into three crews. The "salad bar and service group keep food bowls full and tables clear and clean," said Carrol Harrison (Eureka Reporter, "Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions and more," July 26, 2008).

The kitchen crew preps and serves two hot meals each day. Hyde served breakfast from 5 to 10 a.m. to 1,600 firefighters at Junction City, California last July. Dinner was served from 5 to 10 p.m.

The lunch and freight crew fixes sack lunches for the noon meal and unloads food, beverages and paper goods from the Sysco truck.

Hyde has served some 800,000 meals to firefighters over 18 years as the unit manager of Stewart's mobile kitchen SK-101, according the the company website.

Stewarts is contracted to operate three large mobile kitchens. The federal mobile food service contract sates that each unit can feed up to 1,800 persons per meal. Units are staged in Lakeview and Medford, Oregon, and Wenatchee, Washington during the fire season.

Each mobile kitchen unit is composed of a kitchen trailer, two or three refrigeration units, hand washing unit and beverage trailer. A supply truck, pick-up truck, supply van, office van and bunkhouse round out the kitchen.

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