Fighting the Pole Creek Fire by night

Night crews play a vital role in controlling the blaze

By Brittany Weiner
POSTED: 10:14 PM PDT September 22, 2012 
Fighting the Pole Creek fire by night
SISTERS, Ore. -

As many of us are heading to bed, night crew fire fighters are heading to the fire lines of the Pole Creek Fire. Firefighting is already a difficult task, but adding the dark of the night can make crews' job more difficult.

"Usually there's smoke inversions," said Pole Creek division supervisor Trish Wallace. "It's hard to see stuff, and along with the dark."

Night crews at the Pole Creek Fire start their shift at about 5:30 p.m. They meet with day shift crews whose day is coming to a close. The new crew then gets briefed on what's to come that night.

"You try to get out there when there is a little bit of daylight," said Wallace. "So you can identify the hazards you're going to be dealing with for the night shift."

Although fighting wildfire by moonlight (when there is a moon) can be a dangerous task, the night crew is a vital part of any wildfire fight.

"The night crew was a huge factor in the success we've had with this fire," said Pole Creek Fire Information Officer Mary Ellen Fitzgerald. "They might be able to go into a more active fire area that has since cooled down, due to the nighttime temperatures and nighttime humidities. They can go in and do some good work., where it might be too hot for the day shift crews to go in and do it."

Cooler conditions at night also help with burnout operations, something night crews have had great success with over the past two weeks.