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Day in the life: Out-of-state firefighters settle in to battle Granite Pass Complex fire in Montana

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Posted at 3:40 PM, Jul 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-24 17:40:29-04

LOLO, MT — These firefighters have traveled from California to fight the wildfires in Lolo National Forest along the Idaho and Montana border. But what does their day look like? It starts at 6 a.m. and ends when the public’s questions are answered, and everyone is safe.

“We're just trying to get that information about the buyer out there because we know that the public is being affected and we want to make sure that they have as much information as they need,” Alison Batchelder, public information officer for F CAIIM Team 15 and a firefighter, said.

The fire crew has set up camp at Lolo Elementary School. Schools provide California Team 15 with all the necessities to report back to the community about the progress.

“Closest to the incident that provided, you know, cover, climate control, internet, water, the kind of stuff that we're going to need," said Tom Clemo, California Team 15 incident commander.

When they do get called to a wildfire, firefighters carry all the gear they could need with them, including an initial attack bag, a hand tool and 250 feet of hose. In the bag, there is a variety of tools, fire shelter, glow sticks, hose parts and lots of water.

“You're on the wildland and you're hiking, but you also have that adrenaline running through your body. And you know you want to do a good job. You want to make sure to get that fire out as fast as possible," said Batchelder.

Being over 1,000 miles away from home weeks at a time is challenging, but California Team 15 says the community has been nothing but supportive of their presence, and he is thankful for that.

“On behalf of California team 15, we cannot thank the community enough for how welcoming you've been,” said Clemo.

Clemo said that they normally are stationed at fires for about two to three weeks, but for now, all we can do is say thank you to these men and women working to protect us.