One of the many problems on a large campaign fire is supply and the associated supply management. Most of the time, the supply chain works as it should. However, when things go wrong in the supply chain, they have a tendancy to go wrong in a big way.
On a daily basis, hundreds of fire fighters in the line camps require everything from food to clothes to fire line equipment. How much needs to be ordered? When does it have to arrive? Does it need to be transported by road? By plane? Helicopter? Boat? Para-drop? To get a measure of the magnitude of the supply problem, on Dryden-18 there was
- 70 miles (113 km) of hose on a fire perimeter of 150 miles (241 km);
- 430 fire fighters out on the line.
The fire fighters were consuming daily 3 tons (3,048 kg) of food, including
- 50 gallons (227 liters) of milk;
- 24 pounds (11 kg) of tea and coffee;
- 100 loaves of bread.
To keep it all going, orders were completed in the fire line camps and then forwarded to the base camp where
- more forms were filled out and boxes were checked off;
- paperwork was signed and dated, and,
- orders were finally placed with the various local or more distant businesses.
Eventually, vehicles would start to arrive on a daily basis with everything requested to feed, clothe and equip every single person assigned to the fire. For the most part, everything arrived in a timely manner. Sometimes, local stores were overwhelmed by the volume required and were unable to fill some orders, and sometimes, because of errors, orders got overfilled. Such was the problem on one rather special day.