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September 18, 2015
In the Company of Heroes

An air transport helicopter carries water to a fire hotspot

Yesterday morning (while we were still packing), the town of Angels Camp farther south in Calaveras held an impromptu celebration. As firefighters drove to their destinations, people lined the streets with signs and banners just to say “Thank You.”

Gail was disappointed that we were not there to join in the celebration. We owe an unmeasurable debt of gratitude to the dozens and hundreds and thousands of firefighters who risked their lives to give us a happy ending after the Butte Fire.

Thursday morning in Angels Camp
(Source: thepinetree.neet)

Coming up here, we assumed that the fire was done with our area and the firefighters had moved on. We were wrong. First, as we have mentioned in a previous letter, there are still a number of hot spots smoldering around our property and nearby lands. Second, we were surprised this morning when a fire engine pulled up at the bottom of our hill.

It turns out that Cal Fire is still very active in our area, and even on our property. A crew is using our property as a staging area to look for and deal with hot spots in the area. Throughout the day, we were treated to fire fighters walking all over our property. Planes and helicopters flew overhead. Gus, the regional supervisor, came to oversee things. And a group of inmate fire fighters from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation helped clear fallen trees and debris.

Gail points out a hot spot to the firefighters

On the southwest knoll, where we used to have a shed (the remains are in the background)

The Cal Fire supervisor’s truck and the crew’s fire engine on the northern (trampoline) knoll

Inmates from the California Department of Corrections (in orange) earn $2 per day for working on wildfires. Their sentence is also reduced two days for every day worked.

One fellow graciously offered to go and extinguish a hot spot we had discovered, even though it would mean hiking quite a distance, then going up a steep hill with a heavy backpack. He was sympathetic to our fears; he showed us pictures of the home he himself was building up north in Paradise. (He also reassured us that all of our pink Borate flame retardant is water soluble, and will wash off when it rains.)

We are so happy that we have the opportunity to thank just a few of these brave people for all of their hard work. Everyone has been unbelievably kind. They have refused all offers of hospitality, and are embarrassed when we try to take their pictures.

But they deserve to be recognized. They are superheroes.

Gail with John, Brandon, Garrett and Daniel (but not necessarily in that order – they rearranged themselves for this photo after we learned their names!)


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