Wildfires have been raging seemingly forever in California. I don’t know for certain that there was even a break between the fires last December and the current batch that started in early April and is still going strong. Wildfires are almost a given in California on an annual basis, but this year’s fires have exceeded any in the state’s history. A total of 5,283 fires have so far burned an area of 903,797.6 acres … nearly one million acres! And the toll isn’t only land and homes, but there is a human toll also. Just two days ago, yet another fire fighter died in the line of duty, the sixth this year. In addition, eight civilians have also died.
The fire fighters have been working non-stop, sometimes 24-hour shifts with very little time for rest in between, so they haven’t had the time to sit down and tell us their stories, but some day they will and then I will listen and write about their amazing stories, their acts of heroism. Meanwhile, though, I do have a few stories about good people doing good things in the tragedy of the California wildfires. Most of these are small, yet heartwarming stories … the bigger ones will, no doubt, come later.
California Highway Patrols across California have deployed officers to help California residents evacuate from the fires. This unidentified CHP officer rescued this deer and received a deer kiss in return.
Susan and Jeff Grant were evacuated from their home during the Carr fire, the second largest. Luckily, the fire didn’t damage their home and after 10 days in a motel, they were able to return home. When they did, they found a note from one of the fire fighters who had been working to protect the area …He had watered their flowers & garden, and looked after their turkeys! A small thing, but consider this man was likely exhausted and yet took a few minutes to do this small act of kindness for people he doesn’t even know.
Last Friday, the Nelson fire was rapidly approaching the Solano SPCA in Vacaville, and there it was obvious that there was a limited amount of time to get the animals out and taken to safety. There were 67 animals in the shelter, including a python, and only a few minutes to get them out. All the animals were safely rescued, thanks to the fine work of these men and women.
The shelter was spared and the animals were able to return the next day. An added side benefit … about a dozen of the animals are now being adopted by their rescuers!
World Central Kitchen is a not-for-profit non-governmental organization devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters that was founded in 2010 by celebrity chef José Andrés. Along with Guy Fieri of Food Network fame, they are on the ground in Redding, California, near the Carr fire, feeding both the displaced and the crews who are working to contain the fires. Fieri and Andrés have combined their efforts with local branches of disaster relief organizations the Red Cross and Salvation Army, as well as Operation BBQ Relief, an organization that rolls up with smokers to feed victims of natural disasters. Together, they are feeding about 1,600 – 2,100 people a day.
Photographer Noah Berger was on assignment shooting photos of the Clayton fire in Northern California when a firefighter came out carrying a goat. He asked Berger to please take the goat, as he needed to go back and get the others. Turns out there were 10 goats stranded in the midst of the flames!The family that owned the goats had been forced to evacuate, and couldn’t get the stubborn goats to come along, so they had no choice but to leave them behind. Thanks to some heroic firefighters and Noah Berger, the little goats are safe.
These stories may not seem like much … just little things, really, like watering someone’s flowers or rescuing an animal … but these are the things that people with kind hearts, people with compassion, people who care about others do. We help others, even if only in small ways. Every single firefighter and rescue worker out there battling the heat, exhaustion, and risking their life has my undying gratitude and utmost respect. These are my heroes this week. Let us hope for an end to these terrible fires soon before the toll in property and lives goes any higher.