DONATIONS: How to help victims of the Valley Fire where you live
Community support for firefighters has been huge this week. ABC7 News has seen photos of support across the region. There's a lot of support for them in Middletown, where some of the firefighters have lost their homes.
Lots of gratitude for firefighters in Middletown including for some who have lost their own homes. pic.twitter.com/njqVBitAHn— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) September 16, 2015
Firefighter Dave Watkins was pretty sure his home would burn but he told ABC7 News that he needed to see it firsthand to believe it was gone.
For eight years, Watkins has seen loss firsthand. With Cal Fire, he's often on the front lines. Now the Valley Fire has blurred the lines between firefighters and victims.
"I do my job to protect other people and their homes," he said. "And it's kind of devastating to find out you're helping other people while there's another fire going on and your house is going up and there's really nothing you can do about it."
Interviewed a firefighter who lost his own home. His number one concern right now - getting back to work. Story 430p pic.twitter.com/7jITfn9q4s— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) September 16, 2015
Watkins was on his way from the Butte Fire to the Valley Fire when his home was destroyed. As many as 10 firefighters lost their homes, according to Cal Fire. Three of them lost their homes to the Butte Fire, while seven others were hit hard by the Valley Fire.'
"I heard lots of rumors of the area, but I needed to see for myself whether it was standing or not," Watkins said.
A total loss. One image he says stands out in his mind is the outline of the trampoline in the backyard. Watkins' 10-year-old son Dylan wasn't here at the time.
"It still really hasn't set in yet," he said. "But I'm sure with the help of the community and getting overwhelmed with generosity from everybody from the department from the community it is helping out a lot."
Firefighter who lost home had trampoline in backyard. Tells me luckily his 10 year old son was not home at the time. pic.twitter.com/kAwI9PlTY4— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) September 16, 2015
Community members like Michelle and Amanda Waller painted their support on their vehicle for everyone to see.
"My daughter has done this three times," said Michelle. "We made it through the Rocky Fire, we made it through the Jerusalem Fire, and we made it through the Valley Fire."
PHOTOS: Fire crews battle massive Valley Fire
Amanda added, "I just wanted to thank them because they're saving our homes."
Watkins continued to fight to save those homes as his vanished.
"There was nothing I could do about my own house so I had to protect everybody else," he said.
Watkins is taking a few days off now, but he says his main goal is to get back to work. Fighting fires, he says, is where he feels most comfortable.
"I'm going to be fine," he said. "I'll rebuild, I'll find somewhere else to live."
Watkins says he is one of two firefighters who lost their homes on that block. He lived there for about four years and was renting from a friend, so it's a loss for both of them.
RESOURCES: Valley Fire evacuation centers, school closure information
Governor Brown spoke about the brave men and women's sacrifice Monday.
"When you hear that firefighters themselves, you can imagine yourself in that position, it's obviously, it's scary stuff," he said. "It takes a lot of courage."
If you would like to help, Cal Fire is working the the "Forestry Crabfeed" to set up a fund to help all of these firefighters. For those wishing to donate you can mail checks to the following:
Forestry Crabfeed FF Relief Fund
2210 West College Ave
Santa Rosa, Ca 95401
Attn: Olga Leitch
One hundred percent of the money collected will be given directly to the firefighters. In addition the Forestry Crabfeed, which was established as a benevolent fund to assist the employees in the Sonoma Lake Napa Unit, is a non-profit 501c3 so your donation is tax deductible, tax payer ID 45-3748304.
Click here for full coverage on the Valley Fire.
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PHOTOS: ABC7 News at the Valley Fire
Pink is good. One of the many houses saved on Cobb Mtn by retardant drops. pic.twitter.com/3nz9HxRcpv— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) September 15, 2015
Current conditions in the area of the Valley Fire--gusty winds a major concern right now--rain expected tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/eF6fr6rNJ4— Spencer Christian (@SpencerABC7) September 15, 2015
Calistoga athletics booster volunteering cooking breakfast . bit foggy ,cool today hopefully it'll help fire crews pic.twitter.com/SL2dsa9UOA— Janet O (@JanetONews) September 14, 2015
Just In - The #ValleyFire in Lake,Napa&Sonoma counties has now burned 61,000 acres & 5% contained.— CAL FIRE PIO Berlant (@CALFIRE_PIO) September 14, 2015
Pet owner: My dogs are wondering where we are pic.twitter.com/iwUvXqNJYg— Janet O (@JanetONews) September 14, 2015
People slowly waking up at the Napa Co Fairgrounds in Calistoga, one of the evacuation centers pic.twitter.com/mlxnHl8Szg— Janet O (@JanetONews) September 14, 2015
SMOKE INVERSION LAYER: Cold air (fog) undercutting the warm air. Warm air acts like a lid and traps the smoke above. pic.twitter.com/jfMUwSI5WT— Drew Tuma (@DrewTumaABC7) September 14, 2015
Just In - The #ValleyFire in Lake County is now estimated to have burned 40,000 acres.— CAL FIRE PIO Berlant (@CALFIRE_PIO) September 13, 2015
The Valley Fire has hit Middletown. A school and several homes have been destroyed.— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) September 13, 2015
Additional Mandatory Evacs on #ValleyFire in Lake Co. From Hwy 29 & Hwy 175 south to Seigler Canyon Road, along the south side of Hwy 29.— CAL FIRE PIO Berlant (@CALFIRE_PIO) September 13, 2015
Explosions from propane tanks, homes on fire, and Main Street in Middletown in flames. It's a terrible night in Lake County.— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) September 13, 2015
Middletown was where evacuees escaped to for Wragg & Rocky fires earlier this summer. Now it's hit by Valley Fire. pic.twitter.com/MAURjuQYaj— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) September 13, 2015
Middletown in Lake County is now under a mandatory evacuation due to the #ValleyFire. Hwy 29 now closed at Lower Lake to Middletown.— CAL FIRE PIO Berlant (@CALFIRE_PIO) September 13, 2015
Light rain falling at Napa Co. Fairgrounds where hundreds of Valley Fire evacuees are getting food & shelter. pic.twitter.com/sOtPB3wSy9— Cbarnard (@CornellBarnard) September 13, 2015
Update on the 4 burned firefighters from the #ValleyFire. All suffered 2nd degree burns and are in stable condition at UC Davis Medical— CAL FIRE PIO Berlant (@CALFIRE_PIO) September 13, 2015
Visited our 4 injuries Firefighters from LNU at UC Davis Burn Unit. All expected to make full recovery!!— Mike Lopez (@LopezCptmlo) September 13, 2015