CFR firefighter featured in California magazine

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Photo by The California Sunday Magazine, Justin Maxson

Travis Hansen is seen in his tent, where he lived for 14 days while fighting the Mendocino Fire in northern California.

Photo by Travis Hansen

Firebot poses on a beach. Travis and his wife, Holly, found using the Transformers helped give their kids something to focus on while Hansen is away.

Photo by Holly  Hansen

Optimus rests in a bowl of popcorn, while Hansen’s two young children watch a movie. 

Columbus Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Travis Hansen was one of a handful of locals who have answered the call for mutual aid to neighboring states to help fight wildfires in recent months.

In August, he spent 14 days on the Mendocino Fire in northern California — a wildfire that killed one firefighter, injured four other firefighters, burned 459,123 acres, destroyed 280 structures and caused at least $267 million in damages before fire crews contained it in September.

In a recently published issue of The California Sunday Magazine, 10 photographs are featured in a piece titled “Camping out with Long-Distance Firefighters.”

Hansen is one of three firefighters from Montana in that photo series, which is accompanied by a quote.

The section opens with the following, followed by Hansen’s quote (Text by Elise Craig):

Camping out with Long-Distance Firefighters

Fire season in California used to last from June to October. Now the blazes have been so constant and so large that Cal FIRE, the agency that oversees wildfires across most of the state, doesn’t even bother referring to a season. Sometimes, firefighters are sent directly from one fire to the next.

The Mendocino Complex Fire — a convergence of two blazes that consumed 459,123 acres and 280 structures, and killed one firefighter — was the largest fire ever to strike California. It burned for 55 days. Combating a fire of that magnitude requires incredible resources: more than $200 million and crews from not only California, but states ranging from Utah to New Hampshire, two foreign countries, and the National Guard. The thousands of firefighters at the Mendocino fire left their families behind for weeks at a time to live near the flames. They worked shifts as long as 30 hours and slept in portable bunks, on the ground, wherever they could.

“I took a little toy that my son has. We call it Firebot. It’s a Transformer. It gave my boy something to focus on while I was gone. He wanted to know what Firebot was doing. I’d take pictures and send them.”

-Travis Hansen, Montana

Hansen told the photographer about the Transformer toy he carries with him on the road that he and his wife, Holly, have named Firebot. Firebot makes daily reports to  the homebase in Columbus to another transformer, Optimus.

Firebot’s reports include a photo and a description of the day’s duties.

At home, Firebot’s messages are answered by Optimus, who in turn, reports on the goings on at home.

Hansen and his wife, Holly, have found Firebot has helped their two young children when Hansen is away.