White City, Ore. — Hundreds of firefighters are camped out at Touvelle State Recreation Area as they fight the Flounce Fire. The open fields you normally see at Touvelle are now filled with a city of tents, but this isn’t a typical campout. It’s the best way to keep firefighters ready to continue battling back the flames.
“Generally at six o’clock, we go out and get a briefing. After that, we go out to our division and go handle the task that we’re assigned,” said Dacoda Davis. Davis is one of many night-shift firefighters helping battle the fires burning across the region.
Right now, that task is the flounce fire burning near Prospect.
“For us during the daytime, really what happens is we come home around six or seven o’clock in the morning – maybe eight,” Davis said.
For more than 500 firefighters, home is at Touvelle State Recreation Area – for the time being.
“Get breakfast and then head to bed while everyone is heading out,” Davis said.
Each firefighter averages between 13 and 16 hours per shift.
“We’re really out in the field more often than out here,” he said.
Which is why it’s important to have a quiet area for everyone to recharge before another day out on the lines.
“Here is just kind of like a get your sleep, get what you need to get your nutrition and what not and then get back out there as soon as you can,” Davis said.
Davis says he’s fortunate to live at fire camp in Touvelle, he said other crews aren’t as lucky.
“There are certain teams like ‘hot shot’ crews that take their tents and what they have everyday, they pick it up and put it back down,” Davis said.
Davis said his situation at Touvelle allows him certain luxuries like meals, showers, restrooms, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s by the river either.
“This whole job I actually took because I just love being in nature. So being out here and camp, it’s definitely closer to nature than it is at home,” Davis said.
Davis said though being away from home for long periods of time can be difficult sometimes, he said it’s all worth it for his line of work.
“It’s a rewarding profession and I think that’s why a lot of people end up doing this,” Davis said.
NBC5 News asked the firefighters how long they expect to call Touvelle ‘home’ – they said they’ll be there as long as they have to be.
At last check, the Flounce Fire has grown to about 600 acres. Tuesday night’s rain helped slow the spread of the fire, but also brought erratic winds and additional lightning that kept crews busy throughout the night. A Level 1 – ‘be ready’ – evacuation notice remains in effect for residents on evergreen drive and Lewis Road near prospect.
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