" Fires for Summer," a C C Cs Perspective By Turika Oats
Incident: Corral Complex Wildfire
Fires For Summer
Coming from a wild and untamed urban life in southern California the California Conservation Corps provided a lot of peace comfort and relief for a young person like me. The C’s program matures and teaches you the basics of really being on your own. The daily routine for someone staying on a CCC center during the summer consists of; being up before 5:30am breakfast at 5:45am hook line at 6:30am being released to do morning maintenance till 7:00am. From there we are off to work in the fields. We have different crews at Placer Center so we don’t all have the same jobs just the same employer. The different crews are: Construction Kitchen Mitigation Spike Crew plus Fire Crew and Electrical Crew for the military vets. The work we do ranges from working side by side with Cal-Trans pulling brush building/constructing watering/planting electrical work or working in the kitchen. If you’re lucky you might get to experience all the different crews. A fellow corpsmember Silas Williams stated what he liked most about the program is “the opportunity it gives him to learn and better himself as a person”. I’m sure a lot of corpsmembers would agree with him the C’s is a great place to learn and become a better person.
At the Corral Complex Fire we have had a total of 14 CCC crews here switching off when each has met their 14 days. We have had 2 Placer crews 2 Napa crews 3 Fortuna crews 3 Shasta crews 1 Fresno crew 1 Siskiyou crew 1 Tahoe crew and 1 Chico crew. Two of the crews included were fire crews which were Fortuna 22 ran by Larry Crofutt and Shasta 21 ran by Nick Johnson. Both crews were very involved with the fire for example; cutting indirect fire lines and creating trails so the supplies could be delivered to firefighters out on the line. At the Corral Complex Fire alone CCC crews have totaled 25 700 hours. For all fires just in the month of August CCC crews have totaled 160 000 hours. The California Conservation Corps main reason for being called is because we handle fire support operations. This is; supply facilities spike camp and food. Supply is making sure the firefighters have everything they need and if we don’t have what they need in supply we find a way to get it to them. Facilities consist of making sure the camp is clean and there’s no trash around. It can be little things like watering the grass and consistently walking around camp. Providing lunches ice water and Gatorade to the firefighters and walking around doing the same for those working in camp. Spike camps are locations where the firefighters camp out away from base camp but close to the fire. There we provide breakfast lunches and dinner. “They are the labor for logistical functions without the C’s nothing would get done” said nicely by Facilities Unit Leader Brian Gaddis.
Fire season really depends on what you make it. It can get really stressful really busy really long and really boring for some. You work 16 hour days 7 days a week. For almost all fires your there for at least 16 days which is including 2 travel days. You’re with the same crew all day every day for two long weeks. Attitudes are going to clash there will be plenty of disagreements and you will get annoyed with each other. The trick is to make it work! Fires really put you to the test and unfortunately a lot of people get fired during this season. As someone who has been through this a couple times now I will say the experience and check make it worth it!
-Turika Oats CCC Corpsmember Placer Center Auburn California