Fresno firefighter: ‘It’s an honor to be here’

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11 days in and fire crews from all over the state continue to suit up and battle the Camp Fire in Butte County. There’s more than 5,600 fire personnel on this, which of course includes Central Valley firemen ready to serve the communities in need.

Capt. Paul Garnier with the Fresno Fire Department has been assigned to the Camp Fire the last nine days.

“This is by far the largest amount of destruction I’ve seen in a single incident like this,” Garnier said when describing the damage he’s seen.

That’s saying a lot, considering Garnier has been a firefighter fro 25 years. He said it’s hard seeing the tragic aftermath in Paradise day after day. However, since getting to know a number of evacuees and their stories, he said his time there has become much more than a job.

“It’s an honor to be here to support this huge effort, [especially] now we’re getting support federally and locally,” he said. “It’s amazing to be a part of something so large.”

Garnier said he’s built many deep connections and bonds with evacuees, which is something Sacramento Fire Department Capt. Keith Wade said he’s done as well.

During his surveys of Paradise, he’ll often check on some properties he’s been asked about. In one case Sunday, he checked on the status of someone’s safe in a home that’s now a pile of rubble.

Wade said providing closure is the least he could do.

“For that person who suffered such a loss — or their community suffered such a loss — it’s a huge thing. It makes us feel good to put a smile on someone’s face during such a difficult moment,” he said.

Nearly two dozen firefighters from the Fresno Fire Department, CAL FIRE Fresno County, Clovis Fire Department and Tulare Fire Department arrived to support crews Saturday. Part of Regional Task Force 5, they’ll be assisting with search and recovery efforts.

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