Hirz Fire base camp in McCloud is a self-sufficient community

Shareen Strauss
A small neighborhood of tents make up the CCC camp at the Mill Works property in McCloud, which is now the base camp for the firefighters fighting the Hirz Fire in Shasta County.

The Hirz Fire base camp was moved to the Mill Works property in McCloud Tuesday of last week, Aug. 28.

The camp was plotted and erected in two days. It is a completely self-sufficient city that Public Information Officer Jack Horner says is larger than the town of McCloud. They have their own computer system, mechanics, laundry, shower facility, a communication center, financial office, two medical units, a supply center, operation unit, resource unit, liaison unit, public information center and safety office in trailers all on what they call Main Street.

The food is catered by For Stars Catering from Santa Fe serving 3,000 to 5,000 calories each meal. The cafeteria is a separate compound of tents and is staffed by low level, nonviolent inmates with 24-hour guards.

The original base camp at Shasta Lake City on Shasta Dam Boulevard is still being utilized by a night crew.

As of Sept. 4, there were 2,474 personnel working the Hirz Fire with 69 hand crews, 133 engines, 22 bulldozers and 12 helicopters. Fire fighters have come from as far as Maine and Florida in the US and from Australia.

The Hirz Fire was reported to be 46,051 acres and 60 percent contained with an expected full containment date of Sept. 9.

Firefighters on the Hirz Fire have also fought the Mendocino Complex and the Carr Fire in Redding, which has now been delcared 100 percent contained.

Intents, an emergency response company that provides tents, lighting, power and air conditioning, erected nine 570 square foot tents that sleep 20 personnel each in McCloud. They provided outside defuse lighting that is run by generators throughout the camp.

Several neighborhoods of tents are scattered around the mill property. CCC camp has one-person uniformed tents lined up in a row. They help with kitchen work, pick up trash, and help with supplies. The US Forest Service uses their own personal tents. But there is a supplier in the camp should they need a replacement.

The roads in the McCloud base camp are now marked with directional arrows to indicate the various facilities. There is security at the entrance. The roads throughout camp are speckled with colored “Butt Huts.”

Camp security officer Brigitte Foster says that they do not take donations of food. They are fully supplied with three meals, snacks and water. Food from the public they will donate to homeless shelters. But she says that they do appreciate cards and magazines. By day two of the base camp, they had already received a couple of boxes with books and magazines at the entrance.

The streets of McCloud were filling up with homemade signs supporting the firefighters. Yvonne Wilson, a lifelong resident, put up a sign in support of the firefighters. “There is a lot of traffic now, but that is okay. Thank God for them. It makes you feel safer,” Wilson said.

A second meeting since the Hirz Fire began on Aug. 9 was held Friday evening in McCloud by the joint unified Incident Management Team 5 of the Sheriff’s Department, CAL FIRE, and US Forest Service.

At that time, it was reported that the fire had been stable for the three days and holding at Tombstone Mountain to the north.

Yesterday’s report said the northern perimeter continued to hold at Yellowjacket Mountain, and more areas along the northern and western sides are now contained.

It was reports that “As planned, the fire on the northeast side continued to burn gradually downhill toward control lines along Squaw Valley Creek. Crews held these northeast control lines and ensured the fire did not cross the drainage.”

According to last week’s report in McCloud, the control lines have been built by hand crews and dozers. They are anchors for firing operations to remove fuel ahead of the fire. The southern portion of the fire remains secure.

No structures have burned. The McCloud River Club continues to be evacuated at this time as a precaution. No other communities are threatened and there are no other evacuations for any other areas at this time. There is a forest closure on the Pacific Crest Trail from Ash Creek to Castella.

Both Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey and Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko stated the importance of being prepared in case of an evacuation and advocated using the Code Red app on your phone and computer.

Contacts for more information are the Hirz Fire Information line: (530) 628-0039, email:, InciWeb:, CAL FIRE:, Facebook:, Twitter: @shastatrinitynf. Fore specific Recreation information, contact the Shasta Lake Ranger District at (530) 275-1587.