While covering wildfires in the west and south sections of Arizona, ENG crews battle thick smoke and an extreme lack of sleep. I found it amazing that the firefighters could work so hard with less sleep then we had. Our ENG crews working for NBC, ABC, and CBS would get up at 1:00am so they could be on site by 2:00am and live at 4:00am. Yeah, 4:00am Arizona time for a 7:00am morning show hit EST. The Wallow Fire was in the northeast part of Arizona and the Monument was in the south. The Las Conchas Fire is the fire we are currently working near Los Alamos, NM.
The press is allowed in the evacuated town of Los Alamos with a proper press ID. That’s a little tricky with my sat truck operator (from Peak Uplink) who didn’t have an NBC Network ID. We had to talk his way in or no Today Show live hit. After some scrutiny the officer relented as most police were very accommodating to the press. Also very accommodating were the residents and shop owners. One restaurant turned out hundreds of meals to the firefighters. They had a welcome sign to firefighters and the press to come in and get free food. My audio tech, Matt Radlauer, and I went in to get something and ended up helping load a hundred or more meals into trucks for the fire crews. The restaurant folks looked tired after that, so we didn’t bother them and headed to a pizza joint by our hotel.
As the summer continues, Crew West ENG crews prepare for the MLB All Star game that will be held in downtown Phoenix July of 2011. We look forward to a busy July providing services for all of the major networks including ESPN, MLB, and Fox.
-Jim Farrell, President