The wildfires that devastated Northern California last month left thousands of families without a place to live. Dozens of Washington firefighters traveled south to help fight the flames.
A King County Strike Team went to California to help with the wildfires that tore through Sonoma and Santa Rosa. What they saw left a lasting impact and now they want to do more.
“I've never seen anything like that, I've never seen any devastation like that before," Chief Dave McDaniel said. “Certainly we've had some big fires where we've lost some homes but nothing of that magnitude, to that scale.”
McDaniel led the strike team of firefighters that went to the front lines and jumped in to help. They soon learned that they were fighting side-by-side with some of the fire's victims.
“There were 40 firefighters who lost their homes and 80 retired firefighters who lost their homes in that area,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said those firefighters didn't blink, they stayed on shift and continued to serve the community even as they lost everything.
After returning to Washington, members of the strike team decided they had to do more.
“Kind of tugging at you, 'Let's do what we can,'” McDaniel said.
They started a special fund to gather donations for the firefighters and their families who were displaced.
“Especially as we start coming into the holiday season, so many people lost their homes, but they're not going to have anything for Thanksgiving they're not going to have anything for Christmas," McDaniel said.
They say the fire service is a family and hundreds of miles away they have to help some brothers and sisters who usually put others first.
“They would do the same thing for us if something happened up here,” McDaniel said.