Hotshot crew cleans up in Gardnerville
After 36 hours cutting lines around the Springs fire, the Midnight Sun Hotshot crew stopped in Gardnerville on Wednesday to do their laundry before heading to Reno for two days off.
Based out of Fairbanks, Alaska, the 22-person crew arrived Sunday night, and worked nonstop corralling the 1,193 acre fire.
“The fire kept growing through the night,” said squad boss Iris Sager. “then the thunderstorms came Monday and helped stop the growth so we could catch it.”
The Springs fire was declared contained on Wednesday. Crews continued to mop up on Thursday.
Sager, 28, has been a hotshot for 10 years, and is one of two women on the crew.
Hotshots are elite wildland firefighters who are trained and equipped to work in remote areas for extended periods of time with little logistical support.
“It’s a good job. You work hard with highly motivated people, and that’s a good feeling,” she said. “I like to be outside, and I like to work with people that want to work hard and don’t mind being uncomfortable.”
Prior to being called to the Springs Fire, the Midnight Suns had been doing project work east of Fallon, and fighting fires in the Boise National Forest.
“They either use us 14 days with two days off, or 19 days with two days off,” Sager said Wednesday. “Today is day 19.”
For Gardnerville native Adrian Marquez fighting the Springs fire was a trip home.
The 2008 Douglas High graduate worked for East Fork Fire & Paramedic District for three years after high school. This is his second year as a hotshot.
“I wanted to get more experience with wildland fire,” the 22-year-old said. “It was nice to be home, but weird at the same time. Bittersweet, I guess.”
Growing up camping and four-wheeling in the Pine Nuts, Marquez had knowledge of the terrain they were working in.
“I was familiar with the area,” he said. “I knew where pretty much everything was and could communicate with the crew members who didn’t know.”
Marquez hadn’t seen his parents, Manny Marquez and Raquel Iguado, yet, but was hoping to before leaving town.
“I’m going to try and come back to town for the night maybe,” he said. “I texted my dad to let him know we were here.”
Squad boss Seth Reedy said conditions on the fire were very wet and humid.
“One of the problems was there was a thunder cell above it creating down draft winds that caused the fire to spread in all directions,” he said. “so we had difficulty establishing a starting point.”
The veteran hotshot said he was ready for some R&R.
“I feel happy, and ready to sleep for awhile,” he said.