Nathan Markline finished dinner when he received orders to have his gear packed and ready to move on to another wildfire.
The next day, Markline and other firefighters boarded a bus for the four- or five-hour ride from Colorado to Wyoming.
There, the Glen Rock man battled the massive Squirrel Creek wildfire that covered 100 acres the day he got there but had spread to 10,000 acres the day he left.
Markline, a firefighter with the Southern York County Forest Fire Crew, returned last week from a two-week trip out West to assist with fighting two wildfires.
While out there, he encountered everything from extreme smoky conditions to long work days.
Elevation: Markline was first assigned to the Treasure fire in Colorado but it wasn't the blaze itself that proved tricky.
The fire, now fully contained, was in mountainous terrain above 10,000 feet and in some areas as high as 12,000 feet.
"What made that one a challenge was the elevation," Markline said.
The elevation had little affect on Markline, apart from a headache his first day, but other firefighters weren't so lucky.
Some suffered headaches, dizziness and stomachaches and had to be pulled back from the fire, Markline said.
After a few days of working to extinguish that fire, Markline and other firefighters were dispatched to the Squirrel Creek fire in Wyoming.
That blaze was more intense.
"It was moving quickly across the ground," he said. "It was kind of like an orange wave coming down a hill towards you."
The blaze created extreme smoke conditions that all but blocked out the sun.
"It was so smoky that we had to turn on our headlamps," he said.
The Squirrel Creek fire is now considered fully contained.
Second trip: Markline, who works for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, was part of a group of firefighters from Pennsylvania and surrounding states to make the trek.
It was not his first trip to battle western wildfires.
Last year he went to the southwest to battle a fire that raged in Arizona and New Mexico.
A second firefighter with the Southern York County Forest Fire Crew was to be dispatched to the western U.S. earlier this month, but his orders were canceled as fires were brought under control, said Corey Greene, assistant warden with the crew.
On the job: It wasn't uncommon for Markline to work 14- to 16-hour days when he was battling the fires.
He helped create firelines and took part in grid searches, where firefighters line up side by side and walk through burned out areas in search of hotspots and through unburned areas near the fire to look for spots to which the fire may have jumped.
Firefighters slept in tents and would hike to and from the fire each day.
Markline knew some of the firefighters through this job, but others were new faces.
"It's possible you're in a crew with 19 people you don't know that you'll get to know pretty well in 14 days," he said.
- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.