1 year after Camp Fire, Fresno firefighters honored for rescue and recovery efforts

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In a ceremony this week, the Fresno fire department was recognized for the courageous efforts of firefighters who not only battled the Camp Fire but helped with recovery efforts that many times, became traumatic.

It's been almost one year since the devastating fire killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise and damaged other parts of Butte County.

Some of the rebuild efforts are only just beginning. More than 11,000 homes were burned to their foundation, but many of the residents say moving forward begins with closure - something fire crews helped them get.

After the Camp Fire scorched more than 153,000 acres, burn scars weren't the only ones that remain.

"The work you're going to do, it's going to leave a mark, it's going to do some damage to you, but that's our burden to bear," says Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Brian Price.

More than 1,000 firefighters from across the state were assigned to the front lines, but the firefight was only half the battle.

"It's something you'll never unsee," says Fresno fire engineer Justin Simmons. "It was insane, the amount of destruction."

Simmons served as search team manager for regional task force five, comprised of firefighters from Fresno, Clovis, Selma, and Fresno County.

It wouldn't be till two days after their arrival that they would come face to face with the real devastation.

"We quickly realized a couple of days in, we're not out here going to be rescuing anyone," he says.

They would spend almost two weeks, in the rain, and during the Thanksgiving holiday, sifting through debris and ash looking for human remains.

"Bringing the families closure, I guess that's all we had towards the end," Simmons says.

On Tuesday, those firefighters were recognized by the city for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Now that families have gotten closure, they're doing their best to rebuild.
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