Fatigued firefighters: ‘When I sleep, I sleep hard’

Full containment is expected in October

Around 900 firefighters are staying at the base camp for the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. (KOIN)
Around 900 firefighters are staying at the base camp for the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It has been a long fire season and many of the firefighters now working on the Eagle Creek Fire have been on the road for months.

Working those long days and long weeks can take a physical and mental toll. The more than 900 people staying at the base camp for the Eagle Creek Fire are either on the fire lines or sleeping.

“We’re trying to sleep during the day,” firefighter Bryan Crocker said, “Obviously we’re not sleeping very well.”

Complete coverage of the Eagle Creek Fire

Before Crocker came to fight this fire, he was working on the Nena Springs Fire a month ago and the Milli Fire after that.

Cody Tisue has also been on the road for months, battling fires in Colorado, Arizona and now Oregon.

“When I sleep, I sleep hard,” Tisue said.

They are among the hundreds of men and women typically working 16 hour days then trying to catch a full 8 hours of sleep before starting all over on the fire lines again the next day.

“You try to get a few hours of sleep here and there when you’re here but a lot of stuff is going on,” Guy Smith from Sweet Home said.

They’re spending time away from their home and families, but they know it’s part of the deal when they sign up for duty.

Based on how things are going so far, it looks like the tent city in the Gorge will be there for a while. Full containment on the Eagle Creek Fire is not expected until sometime in October.