The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Richard Lefever
For The Sentinel 

Bishop Services' support of the Yarnell Fire more than routine

 


Goldendale’s Bishop Services was at the Yarnell Fire in Nevada, where 19 firefighters were killed. This is the first in a series by Richard Lefever of Bishop about their experiences there.

As a record heat wave passed through Pahrump Valley in Nevada on Sunday, June 30, 2013 our Bishop Services Inc. crew was preparing equipment for deployment to a small, 300 personnel fire in Yarnell, Arizona. It would be a routine, small, uneventful fire camp. We already had provisions on board that would be enough to start this fire from the Doce Fire camp only the week before. Despite the triple digit heat wave our crew was in route to the new fire 300 miles away in less than two hours.

Fifty miles from Peeples, Ariz., the site of our new fire camp a single phone call changed the dynamics of this routine fire camp. Fire fighters had died fighting the blaze. An investigation of the tragedy would be taking place. Everything was put on hold. We were asked to park at a road side rest area until morning.

In addition to the fire fighters we would now be feeding the recovery team assigned to retrieve the fallen fire fighters from the mountain, the Interagency Serious Accident Investigation Team looking into the cause of the tragedy and the politicians who would be arriving for photo ops and sound bites.

Bishop Services Inc.’s project manager, John Philipsen, wanted to use this time to make sack lunches that he knew would be needed in the morning. While sitting in the rest area our setup team strung electric cords, connected water lines and fired up the generators. Another crew started slicing 200 pounds of deli ham and started making sandwiches. The bagging team placed the lunches in boxes containing 10 stacks ready for distribution in the morning. Groceries for an additional thousand people were ordered and en route from the purveyor.

To be continued next week with Bishop Services crews arriving in the devastated town of Yarnell.

 

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