YUMA, Ariz. – Wildfires across California prompted Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in various counties, as well as outsource for help. Fire crews known as a strike team came together from Imperial and Yuma Counties. One YUma firefighter describes his experience up close and personal with the flames. “We worked everyday between 12 and 15 hours. Our day would start at about 4:30 a.m. getting up, we would get our morning brief at zero six and then we would head out,” said Yuma Firefighter Gavin Goble.
Long hours of labor intensive work for Gavin, one of four men called upon to battle two raging California wildfires. Fire Captain Erik Lohman, Fire Engineer Kris Leon and Firefighter Jose Huizar joined the Imperial Valley strike team for a two week mission – to contain the Walker and Rough fires. Both forest fires combined burned more than 80,000 acres of land, under siege by unforgiving flames.
“It was long hours and it was, it was work one-hundred percent of the time,” said Goble. The crew took a Yuma fire engine out to Yosemite National Park. There they encountered the Walker Fire reporter to 100% contained as of Tuesday. The team was reassigned one week later to fight the larger Rough Fire, burning more than 70,000 acres and was just 3% contained when they arrived.
After seven days Goble and the strike team left the area at 25% containment. “I think we did really good as far as what we were there for, completing the task, that we were tasked with. I think everyone was happy with the work that we put in,” said Goble.
The biggest challenge Goble said was being away from home. “One definitely being away from family, away from friends. Not having any cell service because of the remote area that we were in. It made it difficult to keep up with news and communication was definitely hindered,” said Goble.
Six-hundred miles there and back, Goble says the chance to make a change was worthwhile. He said, “I hope that I get picked to go back and continue the work that we started.”