Valley Firefighters Head To Santa Cruz County

5/23/2008 Fresno, CA More than a dozen firefighters from the Sierra National Forest left Fresno Thursday afternoon, just an hour after getting word their help was needed in Santa Cruz County. Mark Bertuccelli, a superintendent with the Sierra National Forest said, "We originally got the call about 1400 hours and that's when we started assembling the strike team."

The firefighters won't know exactly what they'll be doing until they get there. It's a scenario they find themselves in fire season after fire season, as they say goodbye to their loved ones and head to mountains. "You get used to it. You get a call and you just gotta go. It's how we make our money, we do our things," said firefighter Efren Balderas.

Firefighter Brian Vasquez said, "We're usually gone for about 14 days and we're busy all those 14 days. It's quite a busy life."

Firefighters at the Summit Fire will also get help from 200 to 300 hundred Calfire firefighters who spent the last few days in Fresno County battling a fire at Avocado Lake. They headed to Santa Cruz County without a break and even more valley firefighters may not be far behind. "As equipment becomes available, with getting contained with our fire, we will probably be asked to shift resources over there as needed," said Chris Christopherson, a spokesperson for Fresno County Calfire.

For firefighters, helping out is all in a day's work. "I'm proud to do it. Protect homes, save lives. What we can," said firefighter Jason Madrigal.

Their loved ones have seemed to adjust, too, as they also prepare for another busy fire season. "It was very hard my first year. Not hearing from them, my mind wanders, not knowing what's going on. But you get used to it," said Madrigal's girlfriend, Dalia Cedillo.

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