One of the most critical aspects in fighting ongoing Oregon wildfires is communication, including the ability to coordinate with field crews and keep everyone safe. But as flames tore through the Santiam Canyon last week, it burned through a fire camp and took out a lot of that communication equipment.
Out on a fire, it’s not as easy as just picking up a cell phone to coordinate with all of the firefighters, and when flames take out cell towers, firefighters need a system they can trust, as wildfires are usually in remote areas where reception is spotty.
That’s why there is a communications unit in a safe spot transmitting a signal and talking to firefighters through repeaters stationed out in the field. But when the Beachie Creek Fire exploded this time last week, it burned through a fire camp in Gates and took out that key equipment.