The following is a letter of appreciation from a resident affected by the recent Cave Fire in Santa Barbara County. He sent his thanks and gratitude for all the fire agencies, including the Los Angeles County Fire Department, who assisted in protecting his family and home:
“It is impossible to adequately thank the SBFD (and countless partner agencies across the state) for once again stepping into harm’s way to protect our hometown. It’s humbling, overwhelming, and most importantly, life-changing. ‘Thank you’ just feels so lacking, as you all literally ran into the fire, so that we could escape it.
With all the respect in the world to all these brave firefighters, it is fundamental that I extend even deeper thanks to the helicopter pilots and their support crew.
As a quick background, my incredible wife and I have three kids (12, 9, and 6) and live on Via Campobello. Our lives were rocked earlier this month when my wife was unexpectedly diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s given us a new normal that has forced us to find solid ground beneath our feet each day. So when we were forced to evacuate, I was left feeling as abandoned, alone, and terrified as I ever had. Will our family be homeless with cancer treatment and mounting medical debt? I’m usually a very positive person, but things were slipping into a very dark place as I tried to put on a face of calm for my family. Candidly, everything felt hopeless and lost – until I saw your helicopter pilots throwing all that they had at the front.
I’ve sadly lived through so many fires in SB that I am aware of the dangers helicopters face at night, with high winds, and radically shifting pressure systems. I am absolutely no expert, but I was immediately surprised to see them even in the air. They could have sat a night fight out, and no one would have blamed them. Instead, they lifted our entire city by refusing to yield to a seemingly-insurmountable Cave Fire. Their fortitude was matched by an incredible skillset, as I lost count of the number of flare-ups knocked out by a perfectly placed drop. And most importantly, on a personal level, they pulled me out of my increasingly dark place by exhibiting a selfless bravery that refused to back down from any circumstance.
I know this reads like a cheap Hollywood script, but those pilots literally changed my life. I hate to be so dramatic, but I think I was on the very edge of a mental collapse until those brave maniacs showed up. I’d like to ensure they never pay for a drink again in this town, as they embodied what selflessness, community, and bravery really mean.
My deepest of thanks, and best wishes to all for a safe (and relaxing) Thanksgiving. Our table will be toasting you all!”