Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Chainsaws on shoulders, 'heroes' tackle fires
It's pitch black and I'm standing on the street looking up at Steel Canyon Mountain. The only light is provided by the fires pouring down the mountain ridge. The glow is magnificent but frightening as it breathes in the Santa Anas and grows and spreads.

Suddenly in the dark, I see a row of people, about 30 of them, marching in a line carrying chainsaws over their shoulders. They are climbing the mountain. How do they even see where they're going, I wonder.

The glow from the top of the ridge makes the valley seem so dark. But on they go, with one purpose, one goal -- to put themselves between a monstrous fire and the people whose homes are just a football field away.

I'm awestruck. I can't even make out their faces. Just shadows walking into the belly of the beast. The men and women of "Cal Fire," as they like to be called, like to do their jobs anonymously. Most people don't know who they are.

But as I watched them climb up the mountain I thought to myself, those are heroes, the genuine article.

-- By Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor
Posted By CNN: 9:45 AM ET
  11 Comments
Rick,

How right you are that the firefighters are real heroes. Not sports figures with feet of clay or movie stars, but the men and women who are our first responders. Our local paper had a wonderful article on the front page today about the Stockton firefighters who answered the call to head south on Sunday. They were out the door in 15 minutes. One local firefighter was shown on TV much to the delight of his young children who went to school excited to tell everyone that they has seen their Daddy at work. His wife's comment--he hates having his picture taken and likes to be anonymous.

Our prayers are with all of those in harm's way and the brave firefighters risking their lives.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 10:22 AM ET
Just like the superheroes......no need to know who they really are. They help in time of need and crisis. Whoever you are we thank you profusely for all of your hard work and sacrifice to help those you do not know. You and your work is truly appreciated.
Posted By Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada : 10:26 AM ET
Rick,
Glad to hear you are doing OK!

It is amazing when disasters strike what others will do to help...even putting themselves in danger! I wish them all the luck and hope the stay safe!!

And Rick...PLEASE stay away from those chainsaws!! LOL And stay safe!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 11:34 AM ET
Thank you, Rick, for your excellent reporting. You tell it like it is. These people are heros.
Posted By Missy, Fairfield, CT : 12:01 PM ET
Charlotte and Megan are right: If they are Firemen they are heroes. We have many heroes in this world, always there,always ready to assist.

I have an elderly uncle in Stockton and I'm not at all familiar with the exact location, but I was concerned about him. Seeing how city and state came together on this makes me believe he would have been safe. Guess all those things he said about CA are true!

Maggie C
Posted By Anonymous : 12:07 PM ET
The firefighters I know, including my daughter, don't think of themselves and heroes. They try to avoid the limelight & media because, to them, they are just doing their job. Still, I find it a heroic job to be running toward a fire while everyone else is trying to run away.

My thoughts & prayers are with the brave men and women of all the fire departments. They are always there when needed, they volunteer to answer the call from other firehouses, and often go WAY beyond the call of duty. Firefighters don't just put out fires, they save lives and try to save whatever personal belongings they can.
Posted By Deb, Richmond VA : 12:13 PM ET
To Maggie. Do not worry about your elderly uncle in Stockton. We are 8 hours from San Diego and our air is fine here. Well, no worse than usual. Firefighters from all over the state are down south working to put out the fires.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 12:33 PM ET
Hi Rick,

Hello and kind greetings from the seaside of Canada. Thank you so much for your hard work. We stayed up last night and watched the amazing and very touching AC 360 coverage of the devastating fires in California. It was surprising to watch your Steel Canyon Mountain locality and then see you take the trip around the other side of the mountain to show everyone the progress of the fires. It was scary to see how it progressed, advancing little by little. What a blessing the brave firefighters are.

Yes you are right Rick, they are true heroes. Everyone safely evacuates and flees to safety and these brave firefighters stay. Wow. We wish them many blessings.

We are keeping everyone there in our thoughts and prayers – it’s so sad to realize what they are all going through. We hope the winds continue to die down, although we worry what people may discover once they return. Our hearts go out to them.

Thank you so much Rick. The people affected won’t ever forget your coverage. It is very scary to worry and not know what is going on. It’s a blessing when someone puts such effort into telling the story. We hope you are feeling okay and that the smoke has not affected you. Please take care & stay safe.

In appreciation, Gina & family in Canada



He is healing the brokenhearted ones, And is binding up their painful spots.
(Psalm 147:3)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18)
Posted By Anonymous : 3:14 PM ET
Rick, Please ask a firefighter why "Fozcheck" is NOT used from ground level. If retardant was mixed with the water, to protect yet unburned property, they could move much faster. Speed kills fires too.
Posted By lwfries@netzon.net : 9:10 PM ET
I've never met a fireman or seen one that isn't a hero and all of them just look at it as part of their job. They do their jobs quietly but dependably. Its comforting to know that in times of need like this wildfire there will be a fireman to reach out a helping hand.

Stay safe Rick.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 10:34 PM ET
California fire fighters were taking a few hits as of late because of a number of issues that were news fodder recently. In every profession a few crazies exist. We are a Cal Fire and Police family and certainly proud of it! As our own family prepared to evacuate, our hero packed his things and went to work for who knows how long to protect all of us. He makes us proud, they all make us proud.

LAFD RULES!

LAFD Wife/LAPD Cop
Posted By Anonymous : 1:13 PM ET
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