It was a much needed boost after sifting through devastation. Some of the Central Valley search and rescue crews deployed to
the Camp Fire returned home Monday.
“We don’t usually tell (the kids) I’m coming home until I’m actually home because so many times we say I’m on my way home and something else happens,” Justin Simmons said.
But not this time around. Proud families waited with open arms as the trucks pulled in.
“We missed him a lot but we knew he was doing a really good job, and a really important one too,” Simmons’ kids Camren and Jaxon said.
The crews returned from the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history.
“I knew that they were talking about it during the news and I knew that my dad was doing something great for the community,” Noelle Dodson said.
The team was tasked with searching about 3,000 structures — part of a recovery effort. “Our objective was to help bring some closure to the people of the Paradise area,” Capt. Lupe Fernandez said.
“This one was different because of the nature of their job, of the mission. I knew that success for them meant devastation for someone else,” Simmons’ wife Robin said.
Firefighters said there was no way to prepare for what they saw.
“You see a lot of the videos on TV. We sort of had an idea of maybe what we’re getting into and then when you get there it’s unimaginable,” Dan Dodson said.
Thanksgiving was spent away from loved ones, still the families said there’s a lot to be grateful for.
“I’m thankful for him coming back and being there,” Fernandez’ son L.J. said.
“I’m grateful that they give me that opportunity to go. I’m grateful that I can go help. And when I come back they’ve go their arms open and it makes me feel good,” Fernandez said.
There are still valley crews deployed to the fire. Containment is now at 100 percent.