As Geoffrey Keller, Darrell Sales and David Serna all battled the CZU Lightning Complex fire on August 19, the fire was getting dangerously close to their own homes.
Somehow, in a twisted sort of irony, these firefighters all lost their homes while they worked to protect the lives and property of others. And despite having lost their homes to the very wildfire they were battling, they’re still out doing their noble work.
Veteran firefighter loses everything in CZU Complex Fire while protecting homes from another blaze
— KTVU (@KTVU) August 26, 2020
“It’s been really therapeutic and cathartic to get back out there and make myself useful,” Keller told Mercury News. “We’ve been able to save a lot of houses. Almost every person we talk to has tears in their eyes, and then soon we’re all crying together.”
Serna lost his cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains and all its contents.
“When you deal with it from the other side, there’s always a certain amount of empathy you have for people who have lost everything,” Serna said.
“But that amplifies when you now understand — when you lose everything and feel what they were feeling and go through what you saw others go through.”
Three months ago, Sales, an 11-year veteran firefighter, bought the house that ended up burning down.
“I think overall that is the firefighter’s mentality — to get back in the game,” he said. “If there’s anything that would make me feel better at this point, it’s knowing that I made sure to help someone else or protect someone else’s property.”
“The good thing about fires is there’s no malice behind it. It is what it is. We’re going to take it a day at a time, but we’ll definitely rebuild.”
And the rebuilding will be aided in part by GoFundMe campaigns started for each of the three firemen and the generous donations of people who felt their pain.
Keller’s GoFundMe started on August 19 has raised over $14,000, and the author wrote that Keller and his family are considering buying a camper.
Serna’s GoFundMe was started a week ago and has raised $33,200 so far to go toward the 25-year veteran firefighter’s rebuild.
Sales’ fundraiser was started most recently, but already the community has responded with their wallets and donated over $90,000 to Sales and his wife so they can restart their lives.
While the loss of these men’s homes is tragic, the generous donations through their GoFundMe campaigns are a testament to how well these heroes are respected and loved by their communities.
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