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Firefighters Mop-up and Search for Hot Spots Around Taylor Creek Fire

Before firefighters can safely go in an area and start digging for hot spots, they need to check for dead trees or 'snags' first.

Posted: Aug 1, 2018 6:45 PM

MERLIN, Ore. -- Before firefighters can safely go in an area and start digging for hot spots, they need to check for dead trees or 'snags' first.

"When a fire goes through rapidly, even if it torches up the trees, it doesn’t typically burn up the live trees, but the snags, the dead trees, are very dry and they tend to catch on fire. And they slowly burn and eventually they'll fall down," said Public Information Officer with Pacific Northwest Team #2 Brentwood Reid.

So firefighters go in and mark those trees with these orange "Killer Trees" tags. They'll also mark the trees around it just in case that tree were to fall.

"A lot of firefighter injuries and fatalities come with killer trees. It's one of our biggest hazards on the fire line so before we can put folks in there who are working basically with their heads down digging in the dirt, we want to make sure that all the overhead hazards are removed before we get in there for safety," Reid added.

Once those hazardous trees are taken care of, the firefighters can go further into the burnt areas to continue mopping up.

This is Yesi Garibay’s first year as a firefighter with Mosqueda Reforestation. Not only is it her first year, the Taylor Creek Fire is the very first fire she's ever been assigned to. She's one of three women a part of this crew mopping up an area of the fire.

"It's definitely different. It’s been a challenge. The hiking has been one of the hardest things because I have to wear a backpack that's almost half my weight, carry a tool and up and down so it's really long days up to 16 hours wake up at 5 AM to and then we tend to work until 9 PM sometimes," said Garibay.

Firefighting is nothing like she's ever done before. Over the last few days she and the rest of the crew have both helped put out the fire and backburn.

"Scary does not define it especially because it's behind me and I have to watch my back while I'm also watching the green to make sure that if fire does get there, I can put it out before it spreads,” Garibay added.

While this job is far from easy, there’s one thing she knows for sure, she’s glad to be part of the team.

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