Hotshot crews from Central Valley sent to Arizona

FRESNO, Calif.

Monday morning for about an hour, the Sierra Hotshots talked about the tragedy. They are hoping to learn more about the evolving conditions that forced the group to use their last resort protection.

Training was cut short Monday when the Sierra Hotshot Crew got the call to head to Arizona. The group of 20 specialized firefighters are trained to deal with complex, and vast wild land fires. From May until November fighting fires takes crews all over the United States.

Monday morning, when the group got to work, the conversation immediately turned to the Arizona tragedy. Captain Chris Fernandez thought of all the lives that changed in an instant.

" I was thinking about my family and my kids and what they would do without dad. That's what I was thinking about and probably how their families are feeling. Really hit home," Sierra Hotshots Captain Chris Fernandez said.

Superintendent Ken Jordan has been a hotshot for 40 years. This fire shelter saved his life in 1994 While fighting the Big Creek fire near Shaver Lake.

"We were up for about 54 and a half hours and the fire blew up below us," Jordan said.

Perched on a ledge, he was trapped and forced to use his shelter. It still has burn marks from where it melted during the most frightening moments of his career.

"The fire went over, around me. Probably 70-80 miles an hour gusts of wind, 500 degree temperatures blowing underneath it, and the shelter actually started to melt back in several areas, " Jordan said.

Jordan says for 20 minutes he prayed and thought of his family. Like many firefighters around the nation, these local crews are waiting to hear more about the circumstances that led to 19 deaths of firefighter in Arizona.

They pulled away from the central valley with heavy hearts but grateful to help finish the job for their fallen brothers.

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