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I have had a long relationship with fire. In the beginning, it frightened me. Traumatized me enough that I had to go to therapy for PTSD. I have had EMDR therapy and learned to manage that stress.
Volunteering and getting training through the fire department has helped immensely.
It is still not easy. Just in the past few days I have experienced a lot.
While I was helping defend people’s homes, we were burned over. The fire came upon us so quickly and intensely that I saw a flame ball engulf a two story house and our engine. I ran in and crouched down to defend both as long as I could. I had to fall back to a safe spot. For a moment I felt like I was looking at an inferno like the sun and everything around it went black.
Surprisingly, both our engine and the house survived but they both will need some repairs.
After limping our engine to the station, we were approached by a man asking about his house. After he told us the address, we broke the bad news that we had personally seen it burn to the ground.
The next day, I witnessed a woman who was let in behind the blockade to recover the remains of her dog that were recovered and see her house that was completely destroyed. Not long after, we saw a cat that I was able to capture. He had moderate burns. He is at the vet and will go to his owner soon. His owner also lost her home.
Mow and clean up around your house. Don’t have combustibles nearby. Clean your gutters. No clutter. Have your driveway/address well marked and good access. If you want us to save your house, make it able to be saved. Clear and thin brush 100 feet. This doesn’t mean make it the moon but don’t have a burn pile around it either. Envision a fire engine being able to pull in, drive around and stage. Firefighters laying hose. Do the work before hand because we may only have 5-10 minutes to prepare for your house getting burned over.
-Adam Gaska, Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire Department, Station 62