We’ve talked about the Wildfires currently raging in Northern California, and in this week’s Civic Service Report, we’re shining a spotlight on a local Ligonier Volunteer Firefighter who went out to Northern California to help put out the Woodward Fire. Joshua Derk just returned home this week after being out in Northern California since August 19th battling the Woodward Fire. Split into 3 units, Derk worked as a Sawyer. Derk saying: “What the sawyers do is we go out in front of the squads and start to cut a path with the chainsaws through the brush.” These paths made for easier passage for crews to come in and fight the fires, as well as provide an easier exit route in case the situation changed.
Crews also had to watch out for falling trees. The built up heat from the fire would cause the dead trees in the area to make a loud popping noise before falling. That sound, Derk says, was notice they received that a tree was coming down. Derk saying: “That’s I think scarier than the fire. The fire you can tell what’s going on. The tree doesn’t give you a hint. It’s just going to go.”
All their hard work was not lost on the local residents. “There was a lot of people in the towns that the fire was going toward. When they found out we put a halt to that fire and they didn’t have to evacuate, people were standing on the side of the road with ‘thank you’ signs and it was like a parade everyday.” With the flames out and the fire labeled 95% contained, Derk says the crew spent their final day before driving back to PA relaxing.
The Woodward Fire burned 4,000 acres before being contained. As always, if you have a story of a person or organization helping others, let us know. We’ll showcase them here in our Civic Service Report.