California Firefighter Robbed While Battling Ongoing Wildfires: 'Absolutely Disgusting Behavior'

"Honestly it blows me away," said a spokesperson for the local sheriff's department of the incident

CZU August Lightning Complex Fires, Ben Lomond, California, United States - 21 Aug 2020
Firefighters work to contain a blaze during the CZU August Lightning Complex Fires on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020 in Ben Lomond, California. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock

As a firefighter was hard at work combatting the ongoing wildfires in California, their wallet was stollen and their bank account was emptied, according to authorities.

The robbery is still under investigation, as Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Chris Clark called the incident "absolutely disgusting behavior."

"Frankly, I can't believe that somebody would actually have the nerve to break into a firefighter's vehicle or enter their vehicle to steal something from them when they're there to protect the community," Clark said at a Sunday press briefing, per CNN. "Honestly it blows me away."

Over 600 fires in California continue to wreak havoc, believed to have been caused by lightning strikes and perpetuated by uncooperative weather patterns, according to USA Today. The outlet reports that, as of Sunday, some 1.2 million acres of land has been scorched and tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate communities. Six people have died.

The firefighter robbery comes after the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office arrested five people last week for looting during the natural disaster crisis.

CZU August Lightning Complex Fires, Ben Lomond, California, United States - 21 Aug 2020
Flames engulf trees along the Big Basin Highway during the CZU August Lightning Complex Fires on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Boulder Creek, California. Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock

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"These five decided to victimize several of our community members who are already hurting," law enforcement said in a statement on Friday. "This morning we received reports of looters in the Fall Creek Drive area. Deputies attempted to stop two cars in the area – one of the cars stopped, but the other attempted to flee and ended up in a ditch."

"In no way are we leaving these areas unsecured," they added, "we are doing our best and will continue to do our best and if you come to victimize our community you will see that."

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On Saturday, the sheriff's office also issued a message to community members grappling with the ongoing fires, explaining that "first responders are struggling to get resources in and out of the evacuation zones due to the number of other people attempting to get in and out."

"There have been several instances of civilians almost hitting fire crews while driving through those areas," they wrote on Facebook. "We understand the importance of your property or something you left behind, but we are urging you to not come back into the evacuation areas until it is safe. Right now it is dangerous and presenting a number of problems."

"Additionally our dispatch center is being flooded with calls regarding people trying to get back in, please do not inundate them with calls as they need to keep lines open and we are no longer doing escorts," they added. "We are working hard to protect this county and need you to work with us."

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