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Firefighters lose homes while on front lines of Camp Fire

KSBW Monterey-Salinas logo KSBW Monterey-Salinas 11/12/2018

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At least 53 firefighters have lost their homes to a wildfire in Butte County, and that number is expected to grow.

The International Association of Firefighters reported those losses as the Camp Fire has grown to 111,000 acres at 25 percent containment as of Sunday evening.

“To see the number of them that were out there fighting the fire knowing that their own homes were lost, it’s unbelievable,” Tim Aboudara with the association said.

The IAFF set up a disaster relief center for firefighters in Chico and helped more than a dozen emergency responders. 

“He was just blocks away from his own home, engaged in a fire fight, well aware that his own home was probably on fire,” Aboudara said about a firefighter who visited the center. “He had to stay on mission and keep doing his job.”

a car parked on pavement near a forest © Provided by Hearst Television, Inc. Disaster relief centers for firefighters are fairly new in the state of California. The IAFF first set up a center in October 2017 in response to the Santa Rosa wildfires.

This is the third time the IAFF set up a disaster center in Northern California and the fifth time in the state’s history.

The IAFF ramped up efforts as the intensity and amount of wildfires increased in the past couple of years, according to Aboudara.

“The fire already took their homes, but we don’t want that to cause conflict and things that are going to damage their families, their health or their relationships,” Aboudara said.

It’s not just firefighters who have lost their homes, but other emergency personnel, police officers and public servants. The mayor of Paradise lost her home and she said the town council, all public works’ employees and the majority of the police force lost their houses, too.

The fight for handling the Camp Fire continues as firefighters work through a Red Flag Warning with gusty winds and dry humidity into Monday morning.

“They’re really not going to feel this for a couple of weeks,” Aboudara said. “They’re still in action mode. They’re still in response mode.”

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