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Tomorrow I leave to go work fire support at an “incident command post” (ICP) in northern California, U.S.A.

Why am I doing this? Because I want to. Because I can. Because I need a new life experience. Because I love doing things that are exciting and help other people, animals or the world.


Columbia River Gorge before 2017 Eagle Creek fire and the ensuing fire support
Columbia River Gorge before 2017 Eagle Creek fire. Photo by Teresa Sigmon, May 2017. Taken from Tom McCall Nature Preserve.

A few weeks ago I published a blog about a fire that burns a mere 45 minutes from where I live in Portland, Oregon.

The Eagle Creek fire which began on the Oregon side of Columbia River Gorge, on Sept 2, 2017 has now jumped the river; part of the Washington side of the river is also in flames.

The Columbia River Gorge is (or should I say “was”?) one of my favorite local hiking areas . It breaks my heart to think of the damage and how long it may before the hiking trails are open again.

So with a rather serendipitous twist in life, I was given the opportunity to work fire support in California.

I pick up trash when I hike. I volunteer to pull invasive weeds. I was not about to say no to working fire support for the first time!

Yes, It’s ironic that Oregon (where I live) has several massive forest fires and I go work at a California fire.

Go figure.


Teresa Sigmon goes to work fire support
Teresa Sigmon on her first solo camp.


For the next 10-14 days, I will sleep in a tent and work onsite at incident command post (ICP). I will be doing laundry for the 1100-1500 firefighters and fire crew who live in this “fire camp”.

Check out this link ​if you want more general info about fire camp:  https://www.wildfirex.com/incident-command-post/

At this fire support unit, laundry runs 6am-10pm, 7 days a week, performed in two 8-hour shifts by two person teams. The regular laundry folks do not get days off unless s​omeone like me comes to fill in when they need personal leave. (I also do not get any days off while I’m there.)

While doing laundry eight hours a day is not my life-long dream, I’m pretty excited about helping out, doing good for the world and meeting new people!

I was told by Rhonda Shotts, whom I am replacing, there is a small town about 2 miles (3.22km) away that has a charming coffee shop with excellent wifi. My laptop and I plan to go into town every two days so I can continue doing all the usual Sew Like A Pro™ maintenance and answering your emails or Qs.

In any case, I’ve got a lot to do in the next few hours. I’ll send pics and updates along the way!


P.S. Rhonda Shotts, a retired top-notch Country competitor, and I go way back to 1995!  In addition to being good friends, we created many beautiful Ballroom and Country over decades. I’m super excited to reconnect with her at fire camp.

P.P.S. Check out this INCIWEB site for Eagle Creek fire updates, details and photos.

Posted on September 14, 2017.

Follow up here with pics from not one, but two fire camps I worked this summer!


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