Safety first: Fighting fires in the pandemic


There were new COVID-19 protocols for crews working the Mosier Creek Fire

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the Mosier Creek Fire now at 65% containment and crews beginning the mop-up process, KOIN 6 News took a closer look at how firefighters are staying safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For five days, hundreds of firefighters have worked to extinguish the wildfire east of Hood River. The fire destroyed 36 structures, including 8 homes. Firefighters have now slowed down it’s spread to 985 acres.

“We are feeling really good about the perimeter of the fire right now and it’s unlikely that there would be further spread that would threaten additional structures,” said Incident Commander Joe Hessel with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Two firefighters working on the Mosier Creek Fire. (KOIN)

As firefighters get a good handle on the blaze, the last of the State Fire Marshal task forces demobilized and headed back to their home counties.

“They have done a great job ensuring no other structures are at risk,” said Hessel.

ODF will continue to mop up as they work to get the fire fully contained.

“I believe today the last three evacuation orders that were in place were reduced to Level 2, and that would allow folks to go back to their structures as need,” said Hessel.

During the fire fight, crews have been operating with new COVID-19 mitigation measures.

“This is the very first fire that we’ve had COVID modules, which is a health liaison and two EMTs with a sole purpose to focus on that COVID response,” said Mariana Reese-Temple with the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

They’re keeping firefighters in small groups, reducing interactions, and separating the living conditions.

“We are just happy to have it in place,” said Reese-Temple. “It really allows the team to focus on the firefighting and our mission and that’s been very helpful.”

Officials said they expect this to become a standard practice across the region.

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