Watermelon Hill Fire is tough test for firefighters

Watermelon Hill Fire is tough test for firefighters

The Watermelon Hill Fire continues to burn just outside of Cheney, Wash. At last check, the fire was estimated to be about 13,000 acres.

Up until about 2:00 PM Sunday, the same roughly 280 firefighters were on scene since the blaze started Saturday afternoon.

“The vast majority have been here for many, many hours working to get a handle on this fire,” said Public Information Officer Gerry Bozarth.

Officials say some firefighters had been working 12, 15 and even 20 hours straight with just a short break, until the Type 2 team took over this afternoon.

“Many times it’s out in the field, just for a dinner or lunch that’s brought to them. They’re eating in minutes and then back at it,” Bozarth said.

These men and women have been dealing with dry, hot conditions and relentless winds, and because of how many fires are happening right now in Washington, they’re working with limited resources.

“It’s kind of a constant battle to bring them in and rotate them out,” Bozarth said.

Their efforts aren’t going unnoticed.

Lynda Ford dropped by Cheney High School this afternoon to give firefighters cookies. Not only because of their hard work, but because of the danger they put themselves in to control the fire.

“I appreciate them risking their lives to save people’s homes as best they can,” Ford said.

Some firefighters, like Chaz Keedy, say the appreciation makes it all worth it.

“It’s a great job and I love everything I do,” Keedy said.