Hood River fairgrounds 'home' for Eagle Creek firefighters; crew - KPTV - FOX 12

Hood River fairgrounds 'home' for Eagle Creek firefighters; crews say they've prepared for rain

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The rain has finally begun to fall over the Eagle Creek Fire.

Crews have been preparing for what that will mean for them on the fire lines, but also back at base camp at the Hood River County Fairgrounds. 

That’s where 1,000 people – crews from all over the country – have temporarily been living.

Hood River is still a smoky mess. The fairgrounds are usually known for fun, but now are under a Level 1 evacuation because of the Eagle Creek Fire.

Sunday posed a new obstacle for firefighters: extreme change in weather.

Scott Phillips is a medical unit leader for the Eagle Creek Fire, and is in Oregon from Arizona.

“Being from the desert myself, we don’t get as much rain in a year as you guys get here, so when I hear some of the estimates of the rain it kind of makes one think,” he said.

It’s rain that’s much needed, but firefighters are concerned they may have another mess on their hands.

This is day seven for the Warm Springs Hotshots crew. They specialize in burn out operations.

“You know all that rain coming, there’s nowhere for the water to soak up. It’s just going to come down the hills where there’s no vegetation. So it might cause some havoc with some mudslides,” said Renso Rodriguez, the Warm Springs Hotshots assistant superintendent.

His crew knows all too well the dangers of landslides.

“A tree fell about a quarter mile up from one of those high points and it came down like a missile, just came shooting at him. And, you know, just stuff like that that you have to be heads up for,” said Rodriguez. 

Back at base camp, crews are preparing for rain, too. People have moved their tents inside barns where normally there are livestock during the county fair.

Crews also have areas to eat and have laundry cleaned.

As firefighters settle into this new routine with the rain, they know they’ve got a long road ahead.

“They’re getting some rain, but it doesn’t mean the fire season’s over. You know, we still got other places to go,” said Rodriguez.

Phillips says if they do get landslides, firefighters will be in a position to evacuate.

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