A three-person crew and wildland firefighting engine from the Gering Fire Department is in Colorado this week, helping battle the 28,000 acre Grizzly Creek Fire burning in the mountains just east of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
The firefighters left home this past Saturday, and will be spending two weeks working the fire with crews from throughout the West.
Fire Chief Nathan Flowers tells KNEB News the virus pandemic has caused a 180-degree shift in what firefighters do when they’re not on the fire lines. “Getting down to hand-work and supporting the operations of (fighting) the fire, there’s no way around doing that stuff,” said Flowers. “But when you’re out of that, you go back into a ‘module of one’. There’s no camp, everyone has their own individual camps and there’s not one big area they have to go sleep and eat.”
Flowers says any process that could lead to increased spread of COVID-19 has been modified to minimize unnecessary contact, including online check-in at arrival and daily briefings over the radio.
The Gering fire crew has been assigned night shift duties, monitoring the fire perimeter and assisting in burning operations when weather and terrain make it possible.
Flowers says up until now, it’s been a relatively quiet wildland fire season in the Panhandle region despite the very dry local conditions. He says the department has been offering resources for about two months, but no such requests came forward until this past Friday.