Pardeesville man spends two weeks helping to douse blazes in Oregon
Era Gould returned home earlier last week after spending more than two weeks fighting wildland fires in Oregon.
The Pardeesville man, who is part of the Southern Luzerne County Wildland Crew, went out west in late July with a team of firefighters from Pennsylvania to assist in a state with numerous fires raging and consuming acreage.
The Pennsylvania team started in 1973 or 1974 and began being deployed nationwide. Gould, who developed an interest in wildland fires here, decided he wanted to be part of that state forestry team two years ago.
“The more I got into it, the more I wanted to go out west,” he said.
Gould started training, which took some time, and prepared to do a pack test, or a physical agility test involving walking at a high rate of speed for three miles with a 45-pound pack in 45 minutes, to qualify for the team.
He passed the tests and was placed on the availability list to be deployed. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry starts calling out people from the list by forestry districts, and those contacted have a half-hour to call back or they lose their slot, he said.
“It’s got to go fast, because within 48 hours we’re on the ground out west,” Gould said.
He got the call on July 18 and was getting briefed in Harrisburg two days later, he said. The state issued everyone two pair of green pants, two yellow shirts and a fire shelter, a tin foil and fiberglass blanket a firefighter uses should they become trapped by advancing flames, he said.
Once on the ground in Oregon, they were issued pickup trucks and assigned to 20-person crews. They loaded gear into the trucks and headed to the Hendrix fire camp outside Jackson, he said.
“Camp was interesting,” he said. “That’s where you live.”
‘It’s a lot more than a fire in the woods. It’s almost like a military operation.’ Era Gould Pardeesville man who spent two weeks in Oregon fighting wildfires
The glow from one of the areas of a wildfire in Oregon lit up the evening sky over the camp where Era Gould of Pardeesville and other firefighters from Pennsylvania stayed.
Era Gould walks a dozer path with his gear, pack and first aid kit with his crew heading to work for the day fighting wildland fires in Oregon.