PAHRUMP — Smelling of smoke and sweat, Capt. Randy Martinez’s five-man crew pull into Pahrump at 8:30 p.m. Friday, calling an end to a 16-hour day of firefighting.
They trudge over to the town’s park where 400 firefighters have made camp to eat dinner in the dark.
The Southern California crew is just one of many from California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada fighting the blaze, which has weather and geography on its side in the steep inaccessible mountains.
The crew members have been here since the fire’s beginning a few days ago, working all that time to keep the flames off homes in the Trout Creek area. And they’ve been successful. Not one home lost.
In their massive truck, which carries 3,000 feet of hose and 500 gallons of water, they’ve been creating a barrier around homes after the Hotshot crews dig the lines.
“It’s hot. It is hot,” Martinez says as he walks toward the semitrailer portable kitchen capable of feeding 4,000 people in one meal.
“We just got to pace ourselves and be careful. Everything is in extreme fire danger — dry tinder.”
Across from the portable kitchen is another semitrailer of portable showers. Nearby lay a Northern Nevada wildfire crew fresh off a blaze near Battle Mountain. They will be joining the effort today , proably heading over the Spring Mountains to the side facing Las Vegas. The flames have crept over the summit and are heading down into Kyle Canyon, where firefighters are waiting to protect homes.
Larry Muller, a 63-year-old retired Marine, rests against his bag, legs stretched out, enjoying the reprieve that he knows will be short.
He doesn’t yet know where the Northern Nevada crew will be heading on the mountain. But he doesn’t worry. This is what he signed up for at age 60 when he retired.
“Wanted a hobby.”
So, he joined his two wildfire-fighting sons and will be at it again at 5 in the morning when he wakes.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279.