Tent city is home to 900 Hayden Pass firefighters

Hundreds of firefighters from across the country are camped outside of Salida, Colo. to fight a wildfire


SALIDA, Colo. — The tent city, located just outside of the town of Salida next to the U.S. Forest Service District Office, is the current home to the more than 900 firefighters that are working to put out the Hayden Pass Fire, which has burned over 16,000 acres since it started on July 8.

The makeshift city appeared in a matter of 24 hours after crews were called in last week to battle the fire.

Facilities Unit Manager Travis Bailey said he arrived July 11, and by the end of the day July 12, the facility was fully functioning with mobile showers and a full catering service.

As of Sunday, a total of 930 people had checked into the camp, the highest number this camp has housed so far.

"We went from a flat field to this," Bailey told the Canon City News.

Bailey said a lot of the workers and firefighters who are working to keep the camp functional were fighting the Beaver Creek Fire before coming here.

The camp contains a medical tent, a communications tent and a mobile warehouse that receives new items almost every day. Other areas of the fire camp included the mobile showers and eating area.

Bailey said that twice a day they have to haul in 4,000 gallons of potable water for the showers. There are 18 total showers; 13 for men and three for women.

"Wildland firefighters don't take showers every day though," Bailey said, half-laughing.

He also said when firefighters have to choose between showering or an extra 45 minutes of sleep, sleep usually wins out.

As for meals, the catering service provides breakfast, lunch and dinner.

On average, 700 to 1,000 meals have been served each day. Each meal is hearty enough to keep firefighters fed all day, with each meal being equal to about 5,000 calories.

Operating the camp can cost millions of dollars, once you factor in salaries, the equipment, food, ice and fuel.

"This is the reason why they call us in, because the local responders have their own jobs and need to continue doing that job on a daily basis," Bailey said. "Our job is to get in and get out as fast as we can."

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