Firefighters Battling Wildfires in CA Lose Their Own Homes: 'We're All Crying Together'

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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.

Keller and his wife evacuated in time, but they lost their home and found out later that they’d also lost a neighbor. Keller has found putting himself back into his work to be very helpful.

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“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.”

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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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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking