The deadly Carr Fire has burned through Northern California and more than 13,000 firefighters have been battling the blaze for nearly two weeks, according to the LA Times. At the forefront of rescue efforts are Mexican immigrants that have come from Washington, Oregon and California to work as contract firefighters. Many spend their off-seasons picking oranges, lemons and cherries back home trying to make a living but when wildfire season starts they join a private contract fire crew.
The LA Times reports that there were 2,408 immigrant firefighters in California in 2016, compared to 1,288 in 2011.
The Carr Fire has been burning though Shasta County, which is 162 miles north of Sacramento, and is already the sixth most destructive in California history. Yet these dangerous conditions haven’t deterred firefighters like Federico Rocha Sr., a Mexican immigrant and fire crew leader. Rocha told the LA Times that the number of Latino and immigrant firefighters has been on the rise.
“I’d say for the last 15 years, the Hispanic population started to get more involved in this kind of work,” Rocha told the LA Times. “When people appreciate what we do, it makes us feel good,” he said. “Even at stores, people thank us and they’re happy we’re here helping.”
The Carr Fire is located in Shasta County where 65 percent of residents voted for President Trump.
Residents of Shasta County also voted to become a “non-sanctuary” zone for undocumented immigrants this year. But the firefighters have put politics aside to help their fellow Americans during this intense wildfire. Mike Mohler, deputy director of communications for Cal Fire, says the department is well diverse.
“I know we have Russians and we have Mexicans represented up and down the state,” he told the LA Times. “We should have a decent influence, but now I’m curious.”
Read more about the Carr Fire from the Los Angeles Times by clicking here.