Tour of a Hotshot Crew’s fire camp in Alaska

Chena Hotshots fire camp Alaska wildfire
Max Ryan of the Chena Hotshots gives a tour of the crew’s fire camp. Screenshot from the video below.

Since firefighters in Alaska are often based far from roads they may establish camps where crews can be self-sufficient for days or weeks at a time, resupplied by helicopters or paracargo. In this video produced August 1, 2019 by the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service, Chena Interagency Hotshot Max Ryan gives a tour of the crew’s fire camp on the Hadweenzic River Fire at the Cornucopia Complex about 20 miles northeast of Beaver. He explains how they store their food to protect it from bears and use permafrost to chill their perishable items.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Tour of a Hotshot Crew’s fire camp in Alaska”

  1. Does a Hotshot s#@t in the woods? There was no mention of a latrine area (or did I miss it?). A critical part of a spike camp. Think about it …. a crew established in the woods for days or weeks with permafrost below. Figuring one dump per day per man/woman, that’s a lot of s#@t in a relatively confined area. Did crew members just radiate farther and farther out, squatting solo in bear country? Or did most wait until they were on the line?

  2. Right on!
    The video does a nice job of showing how some fire crews have to “rough it” during a wildfire. Camping out and overnighting near firelines is becoming more rare for various reasons. Obviously there are pros and cons to this type of living. Amenities are not available, but maybe you can avoid the camp crud!
    As a usedtabee, I miss some aspects of camping out, such as fishing. We landed on some primo walleye lakes. As a crewleader, I always worried about someone getting hurt at night.
    I guess we will see how times change in light of some recent incidents involving emergency medivac.

    1. Glad you like the video. In Alaska we often don’t have a choice in what most people would call spiking out in the Lower 48. When there are no roads and many of our fires happening in remote locations in Alaska, this is pretty much standard procedure up here. There’s less noise, meaning less distractions, letting firefighters focus more on the job at hand. Helicopters are staged on the fire in case of a medivac. Our nighttime isn’t your normal nighttime because it doesn’t really get dark.


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