Night operations on the Miles fire

TRAIL, Ore. — Firefighting operations on the Miles fire don’t just end when the sun goes down.

“On average, we’re out here as long as necessary. A minimum of 13 hours, as long as needed,” said crew boss trainee Alberto Gomez.

In fact, fighting fires at night plays a crucial role in controlling wildfires.

“Night shift is — especially in August — is extremely important in these operations,” said Jason Pettigrew, the night operations chief. “A lot of the work, the success that we have as firefighters occurs at night shift. We can continue those as fire activity dies down.”

And the weather conditions at night often make it possible for crews to fight the fire more aggressively.

“Typically nights have higher humidities so they’re able to do more firing operations and get a little more aggressive than they can during the day, but again, you have cooler temperatures so that helps keep that fire behavior down and the aggressiveness of the fire,” explained safety officer Shannon Bowman.

And the forecast is constantly changing.

“Our operations folks are looking two or three days ahead minimum, at least to know and make plans of course that changes with current fire behavior and they have to modify the plans a little bit.”

Crews could be fighting the fires directly, doing burn-out operations or standing-by, making sure hot embers don’t start new fires. But at the end of the day, Pettigrew says their goal is to set up the next shift for success.

“We’re setting up day shift to be successful so they’re counting on us to be out here.”

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