Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hometown Heroes

by Keli Gwyn (@KeliGwyn)

My hometown of Placerville, California is awash with heroes. The King Fire, which is currently the nation's highest priority fire, is raging just ten miles away. While my town and my home aren't threatened, many towns and homes nearby are.

Enter the heroes, some 7,952 of them as of the time this post went live. These firefighters, law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel are battling a blaze that began Saturday, September 13. It started small but quickly spread and is currently listed as being 92,960 acres.


The fire's southern incident command center is set up at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds next door to my favorite supermarket. Fire engines fill the parking lot, along with a line of mobile sleeping units. The air conditioners hum loudly while exhausted firefighters inside try to grab some shut-eye.


Three days into the fire, I spotted the crew shown above picking up a few items in the store. I thanked them, shook their hands and asked if they'd pose for a picture. They readily agreed, but they wanted me to stand with them. I declined, saying I wasn't a hero; they were.


When I went to my local Walmart a few days later, I noticed a number of engines in the parking lot. I was able to get this picture of one of them with a couple members of the crew. Once again, when I asked the firefighters to pose, they insisted I be in the shot instead of them.

This led me to the conclusion that one of the major characteristics of a hero is humility. The many men and women I've encountered as I've rubbed elbows with the firefighters don't see themselves as heroes. They often shrug with embarrassment and tell me they're just doing their job.

These dedicated men and women are doing their jobs and doing them well. They're working long shifts in horrific conditions with no days off. They're missing their loved ones back home. One thing they're not doing is complaining. On the contrary. They're kind, courteous and grateful for the smallest of things.




My local Curves coaches met to pass out Otter Pops to the firefighters on a hot afternoon, and I was honored to join them. As I handed out the simple treats, I was greeted with ready smiles and a chorus of enthusiastic thank you's.

Based on my experience with these heroes in my hometown, a hero is hardworking and humble, kind and courteous, brave and sometimes even bashful. These traits are much the same as those I've seen heroes in stories portray.

If you were to expand the list of traits a hero possesses, which would you include?


16 comments:

Missy Tippens said...

Keli, the firefighters are brave and selfless. I'm sure they appreciated the thanks that you offered! (and the popsicles!)

Pamela Tracy said...

Okay, we need to write an anthology based on the picture with the four heroes. I know which one I'll take :)

We have too many fires here in AZ, so I know how vital their job is.

Janet Lee Barton said...

Great post Keli! Maybe add strong and dedicated. :)
So thankful for them always!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Thank you so much for sharing this!

Keli Gwyn said...

Missy, the locals are so grateful that they've hung thank you posters all over town. It's heartwarming to see the community support.

Keli Gwyn said...

Pam, I think you've got a wonderful idea for a novella collection. I've met so many firefighters this past week who would make awesome models for heroes. They're great guys--and they're nice to look at. ;-)

Keli Gwyn said...

Janet, strong and dedicated definitely need to be on the list. Just working in the heat wearing all that heavy protective gear would be tough. Their boots alone must weigh several pounds.

Keli Gwyn said...

Sherri, I'm happy to let others know how appreciated these brave men and women are. As of this morning, there are 8,002 of them fighting a fire that's grown to 95,347 acres. Overnight the firefighters achieved 43% containment. It's raining in the Sierra today, so I expect to see that percentage rise soon.

chris granville said...

I love your post Can I add three other groups for hero status?

Our Lord, Our Military, Our Police

God bless you
Chris

Leann Harris said...

It is heartening to know such real life heroes exist and that people say thank you.

Keli Gwyn said...

Chris, there are so many heroes, aren't there? You've named some great ones. I think our everyday heroes are just as important as those who make the news. For example, the staff at my supermarket has gone out of their way to welcome the fire and law enforcement personnel and meet their needs. That makes them heroes in my book.

Keli Gwyn said...

Leann, I've been heartened indeed by the outpouring of gratitude from my fellow townspeople. I could do an entire post about that aspect of the fire alone, and I wouldn't have to look far to find thank you displays to photograph. There are posters, banners, etc. plastered all over town. It makes me proud to be part of such an appreciative community.

Linda Goodnight said...

Wow, Keli, what great heroes! You know, of course, I love FF, but your post really brings their dedication and hard work to life. I'm praying that fire gets under control soon.

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for your prayers, Linda. We had our first real soaking storm pass through this past Thursday, and it really helped the firefighting efforts. It's Friday night as I write this comment, and the fire is now 74% contained! The demobilization of emergency personnel has begun. These brave men and women are going home or will be deployed to other fires.

Christine Johnson said...

Wonderful post, Keli, highlighting these heroes who risk their lives for others.

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for your kind words, Christine. I'm happy to report that the King Fire is now 89% contained and is expected to be fully contained with no further growth by October 4. Nearly half of the over 8,000 who have been working to suppress the fire have been demobilized and are able to return home or head to other fires as needed.