Paradise: The First Responders By dean griffin

When a wildfire occurs, evacuations are necessary to keep everyone safe. Tens of thousands of residents from Butte County and the surrounding areas quickly gathered what they could from their homes, fleeing the deadly Camp Fire as soon as possible. While most people were escaping the devastating fire, some were rushing toward it, including firefighters from Marin County.

Kentfield Fire was quickly called upon to help fight the fires. Once they reached Butte County, their first task was trying to protect the hospital in Paradise, but that quickly became difficult, according to Kentfield Fire Captain Anthony Garcia.

Photo courtesy ABC News

“Our initial assignment was to head into the town of Paradise and help protect the hospital. We were not able to make it into town since our means of access was cut off, so where we were, there [were] some houses that started to be impacted by fire, so we started to take action there,” Garcia said.

Although the destruction of the fire was devastating to all, the firefighters realized that it is important to focus on the task presented to them and not let their emotions take over.

“For me, I think seeing the people absolutely makes me sad but while we’re there, we’re more focused on trying to do what we need to do to help them... It’s been a really rough 14 months or so in the state and most of us have been to all the major fires that have happened over the past 14 months so I think that’s starting to be harder on some people,” Garcia said. “Coming home, you kind of get a broader view of the news and a little more of the personal side of stuff but it’s kind of a hard job; we deal with other people’s problems, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

However, the firefighters had to do more than just containing the fire. Mitch Nevy, a fireman from Kentfield Fire, believes that there are additional important aspects of his job.

“We’re not just out there ‘fighting fire,’ we’re talking to people in the community… The title of firefighter, that’s not all we do—there’s a lot more that goes into just being a firefighter. We’re a shoulder to cry on, we cleaned up people’s houses, we fed animals, [we’re] whatever people need us to be,” Nevy said.

Brosnan Security officers patrol the Walmart parking lot where displaced residents take refuge.

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