During the past few weeks we have seen the herculean efforts of the local firefighters who have been ably assisted by many others from around the state. We certainly have been spared the horrors that took place in the Redding area where more than 1,000 homes were destroyed.
This fire protection of our area came with a very expensive price tag. Two wonderful men lost their lives in the line of duty. Braden Varney and Brian Hughes left behind children, wives, parents, extended family and a larger circle of friends. Braden was from Mariposa and Brian lived in Squaw Valley.
When the children in your life use the term hero, please make sure that there are true heroes in our lives and they include veterans, law enforcement, firefighters, emergency service personnel and a few others. The term hero does not include athletes or movie stars.
I pray that as the Varney and Hughes children grow up without their dad in the picture they will hear of the appreciation this area has for the sacrifice their dads made and for the sacrifice they endure daily without them.
As I drove around in Oakhurst and Mariposa doing errands and completing tasks for the upcoming school year I was astounded by the amount of equipment that has come into our area. Remember that the state is also providing for fires in Redding and Idyllwild as well as the regular fire details that occur every day all over California. It boggles the mind to imagine the intense planning and coordination that has created the emergency response effort.
When these incidents occur, somebody starts the ball rolling and then many people swing into action following procedures long established to set up incident command centers, media information centers and lodging for the firefighters. There’s much more; for instance, incident managers have to have medical care ready at a moment’s notice, set up water stations, bring in tire replacement trucks, create fuel transfer stations, keep personnel records and deploy trucks, planes, helicopters, bulldozers, generators and repair vehicles, as well as many other items I can’t even fathom. Each person doing their part of the operation creates an awesome force that protects and serves us all.
Somebody has worked very hard to ensure that these conflagrations are met with a force that begins the process of safely fighting the fire in a prescribed manner that efficiently extinguishes the flames, cleans up the damage, and allows the rest of us to breathe a sigh of relief. Carol and I had a friend who was evacuated from the Ferguson Fire. Doris was here for six days as she waited to hear the all-clear had been sounded for her to return to her home.
None of us like the idea of the smoke-filled skies but the inconvenience is rather small compared to the smoke the firefighters endure as they work for us. The heat of the day was staggering to many; add the heat of the fire along with the weight of the gear the firefighters wear and it makes our comments sound really petty.The signs along the roads that speak to those heroes in the different-colored fire trucks – “Firefighters Rock,” “God Bless You,” “Be Safe,” Thank You” – express the sentiments of far more people than the one person who took the time to erect the sign.
So to the office folks who did the planning, the folks who lead the trainings, the crews on the trucks and the individuals who run toward burning buildings and wildfires, we say a heartfelt, “Thank You!”
Rest in Peace, Braden and Brian.