Volunteer Firefighter Continues to Fight Blazes Despite Home Burning Down: 'It's All Gone'
Even after his home burned down, a volunteer fire chief is continuing to fight a deadly blaze that has decimated a large swath of Northern California.
Friends of Reed Rankin are hoping to raise funds for the longtime Berry Creek Volunteer Fire Chief after losing his belongings to the fast-moving North Complex Fire on Sept. 8. Since early August, the blaze has burned over 269,218 acres of Butte, Lassen, Plumas and Yuba counties, and is just one of a series of wildfires currently ravaging the state.
When the North Complex Fire closed in on Berry Creek last week, Rankin worked to help evacuate his neighbors, only to find out the next day that his home was destroyed by the blaze.
"I found out my home burned down," he told Fox affiliate KTXL. "Everything you ever had collected, all your photo albums, everything you ever had in your life was just right there and it’s all gone."
Despite discovering his home was gone, Rankin returned to fight the blaze, which has killed 15 people in the area as of Tuesday morning, according to SF Gate.
"I don’t want to take any time off because I don’t want to sit there and think about what I lost," Rankin told KTXL. "So, I’m just going to stay here and help my community."
The outlet said six of the seven volunteer firefighters in the area lost their homes as well.
Since Rankin did not have homeowner's insurance, a GoFundMe has been set up to help him recover.
"Reed has been contributing to the Berry Creek community as a volunteer firefighter, school board member, and local business owner for more than 30 years," reads a description on the donation page, which has raised nearly $20,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.
"Though many people have been affected by the Bear Fire, the Chief has been on the front line whenever Berry Creek needed him — now he needs us," it continued.
Wildfires have affected Northern California nearly every summer over the last few years, and Gov. Gavin Newsom confronted President Donald Trump on Monday about the effects of climate change on the state.
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"We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident that climate change is real," Newsom told Trump, according to the Associated Press.
Rankin is remaining hopeful that he, and the community, will be able to rebuild from the ashes of this latest disaster.
“We’re just going to pick up our pieces," he told KTXL. "We’re going to stay strong and we’re going to try to rebuild as best as we can."
To help communities facing destructive wildfires in the Western U.S., consider donating to the following organizations:
• The American Red Cross allows donors to direct funds to support people impacted by the fires.
• GlobalGiving’s Wildfire Relief offers emergency funding to local efforts providing essentials to wildfire victims in need.
• GoFundMe’s California Wildfire Relief Fund aims to “support a range of needs” by issuing “grants to individuals, organizations and communities that have either been impacted themselves or are dedicated to helping.“
• The California Fire Foundation “provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect.“