Utah Firefighters Continue To Work On California Wildfires As Spouses Await Their Return
SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – There are certain chapters of the Bible that could easily describe what many parts of California look like right now with so many wildfires burning.
However, what Revelations doesn’t mention, is there are those fighting those fires to make sure this isn’t the last chapter for some people and homes.
“There are crazy fire conditions, and it’s hot,” said Denise Thompson from her Saratoga Springs homes.
Thompson has been paying close attention to the wildfires burning in California.
It’s not because she has any friends or property there, but because her husband, Zane, is one of those putting out the fires.
“He loves fighting fires and I know there are risks,” she said. “My heart goes out to him, and as he’s explained it to me is, somebody’s got to do it. And he’s absolutely right.”
Zane Thompson is a Captain with the Park City Fire Department.
He is one of about 30 firefighters from several different Utah fire agencies who volunteered to go to California when the call for help came in.
“He always asks me, and I appreciate that,” said Denise Thompson.
She supports her husband all the way.
However, sometimes being the spouse of a firefighter is tougher than being the firefighter, especially when she doesn’t hear from him like she normally does on other fires.
“Of course, it gets nerve-racking. I’ll start texting just to let me know you’re okay and just a quick, hey I love you,” she said. “In fact, two days ago when he was on for a 24-hour shift, I usually hear from him once or twice a day throughout the day. And I hadn’t heard from him all day long.”
@utahcountyfd deployed 2 engines and 8 crew members on August 13 to fight fires in California. Scheduled to stay 14 days, they extended to 21 days. With travel time they will have been gone 25 days. They return to Spanish Fork this Saturday at 10:30 AM. This defines hard work! pic.twitter.com/dp9GENEStS
— Utah County Sheriff (@UCSO) September 4, 2020
Often, firefighters are busy or out of cell phone range.
It puts stress on their spouses and loved ones who are accustomed to hearing from them throughout their fire deployments.
“There’s a little apprehension with it all,” she says.
There’s also the stress at home.
With school just starting for their three kids, and Denise working her own job as a nurse, it would be easy to feel burned out.
With her husband not being around to help with chores or homework, the responsibility falls on Denise to make sure everything continues as if he were home.
“Trying to keep it as normal as possible,” she said with a smile. “And my neighbors have been amazing. I’ve had tons of support from neighbors knowing my husband is out. They have offered to take the kids to practice, so where’s a lot of community neighborhood support.”
There’s also support among firefighter spouses.
They may not all know each other, but they share a bond.
“The fire group is such a tight-knit group. You don’t need to know each other, but you can relate to them,” said Denise Thompson.
Wildfire deployments are typically 14 days.
However, they can be extended, which is what happened recently to the Utah crews.
For Thompson, she’s holding it down at the house until her husband comes back home.
That allows him to focus on his job, and be an answer to all those prayers.
“I know he loves it and I know he’s working incredibly hard,” she said. “I’m proud of him.”
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