PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – Hopping from fire to fire during the height of a historic California wildfire season can wear crews down and take its toll. Many spend their days away from home and their loved ones. But a group of volunteers hopes to take some of the pressure off by bringing their furry friends to those fighting on the front lines.
“It’s tough and it requires a lot,” said Benjamin Moulton. “I’m just happy to do that.” He’s in his first wildfire season, eager to help. Many of his colleagues have already been on the Caldor Fire for days.READ MORE: Footage Released Of Carjacking Suspect's Assault On Sacramento Sheriff's Deputy
“This is what everybody trains for and they want to do it,” Moulton said. In the midst of the firefighter, home is base camp in Placerville at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.
“They’re away from home for at least fourteen days for one assignment, if not more,” said Courtney Coats, with the U.S. Forest Service.
She detailed how difficult it can be for crews to be away from those they love most – including their animals.
“All these folks have dogs and animals at home they leave behind,” she said.
It’s why volunteers show up to base camp every morning for two hours, with therapy dogs in hand – to ease their stress and encourage a break from the long, grueling days.
“I’ve met Willow – I’ve met Bear,” said Moulton. “Any time there’s a dog around, they want to go pet the dog. I’m no different.”
Volunteers who bring their dogs, like Betsy Christ, love to be a part of making their day bright.READ MORE: President Biden Releases Federal Funds To Aid Fire Hose Shortage In California
“You can just see when we walk up to people – the big grin on their faces,” Christ said.
The dogs sniff out stress and hop from fire to fire, too. But the Caldor Fire is the first they’ve responded to so close to home.
“It’s our backyard. These guys are protecting our homes,” Christ said. She’s especially impacted by this fire. “I’m evacuated – and these guys are making sure my home is still there when it’s over.”
Each volunteer, Christ said, is happy to help. The dogs are, too. They’re just as enthusiastic about the job as the crews they’re helping.
“Our dogs enjoy doing what they’re doing. That’s why they do it, and that’s why we do it,” Christ said.
Different dogs are anticipated to show up each morning over the next month. But Christ said it could be longer.
“If they’re there, we will be too,” she said.MORE NEWS: Thief Takes Off With Antelope Woman’s Bright Yellow Cotton Candy Trailer
Christ said there are as many as eleven different teams of dogs and volunteers in rotation.