Firefighters battle exhaustion along with wildfire flames

Firefighters trying to contain the massive wildfires in Oregon, California and Washington state are constantly on the verge of exhaustion as they try to save suburban houses, including some in their own neighborhoods.

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September 18, 2020 - 2:52 PM

Margaret Stewart, center, and Ben Arnold, both with the Los Angeles Fire Department along with working dog Veya, search for victims of the North Complex fire. Photo by (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

BEAVERCREEK, Ore. (AP) — They work 50 hours at a stretch and sleep on gymnasium floors. Exploding trees shower them with embers. They lose track of time when the sun is blotted out by smoke, and they sometimes have to run for their lives from advancing flames.

Firefighters trying to contain the massive wildfires in Oregon, California and Washington state are constantly on the verge of exhaustion as they try to save suburban houses, including some in their own neighborhoods. Each home or barn lost is a mental blow for teams trained to protect lives and property.

And their own safety is never assured. Oregon firefighter Steve McAdoo’s shift on Sept. 7 seemed mostly normal, until late evening, when the team went to a fire along a highway south of Portland.

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