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‘You are heroes’: Woman writes ‘love letter’ as Texas firefighters deploy to California

See an aerial view of the Woolsey Fire

This is what the Woolsey Fire in Southern California looked like on Friday, Nov. 9. As of Sunday morning, the fire has burned 83,275 acres and is 10 percent contained.
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This is what the Woolsey Fire in Southern California looked like on Friday, Nov. 9. As of Sunday morning, the fire has burned 83,275 acres and is 10 percent contained.

A group of Austin firefighters were getting some gas on their way to the Malibu, California, area to help fight the Woolsey Fire when they met “Juanita from Phoenix.”

She stopped, talked to them and wished them well. But she was so moved by the simple experience of driving behind their fire truck convoy for a few miles that she penned “a love letter from Arizona” to the Austin firefighters, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

“Thank you all for what you are doing now and on a daily basis,” she wrote, according to the department. “You are heroes to soooo many of us. While most people are running away from danger, you and law enforcement personnel are running into it.”

The Austin Fire Department is one of 47 Texas fire departments that have sent firefighters to help fight the blazes burning in Northern and Southern California, the Star-Telegram reported.

Firefighters from Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Plano, Prosper, McKinney and Frisco are just some of the more than 200 who are already in California helping to fight the Camp, Hill and Woolsey Fires.

A love letter from Arizona: “We met you in Texas at a gas station yesterday and you said ya'll were headed to...

Posted by Austin Fire Department on Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Austin firefighters met Juanita from Phoenix before they had gotten out of Texas Tuesday. The crews from Fort Worth left a day earlier, according to a tweet from the Fort Worth Fire Department.

On Thursday, Austin Fire Capt. Andre de la Reza summed up his department’s work this way, in another Facebook post:

“I had a Strike Team leader once tell me that the essence of our job is, ‘Go out and do good.’”

WoolseyFire.jpg
Austin firefighters represent one of 47 departments from Texas that have sent personnel to California to help fight wildfires. Capt. Andre de la Reza Austin Fire Department

So they’ve been patrolling and putting out secondary fires in the Malibu area, on 28-hour shifts since they’ve arrived, according to the Facebook post.

The end of Juanita’s letter was addressed to the Austin firefighters she met at that gas station, but it could just as well have come from all those affected by the fires, to all the firefighters from all corners of the country who have run toward the danger in California.

“Thank you,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart.”

Only a day after a shooting that left 12 dead and Ventura County reeling, area residents were forced to evacuate as a wildfire encroached on homes in Calabasas on November 9. Video shows Ventura County firefighters responding to protect houses.

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