Lincoln native helps battle massive Camp Fire in Northern California
The camp fire has been burning for less than a week in Butte County in Northern California and it’s already the states deadliest on record.
Dozens of people have died and hundreds of others are missing.
More than 7,500 structures have been destroyed, over 125,000 acres burned, and thousands have been evacuated.
Nathan Trauernicht, a Lincoln native who’s now the fire chief at the University of California Davis Fire Department, says nothing can prepare someone for this.
“It’s really unimaginable; I mean growing up in Nebraska you just aren’t exposed to wildlife fire,” said Chief Nathan Trauernicht.
Nathan graduated from Lincoln East and spent several years in Lincoln Fire and Rescue’s fire explorer program, a program he says inspired him to become a firefighter.
Several crews from Trauernicht’s department have gone up to assist firefighters despite being more than an hour away from the fire zone.
Dry conditions and strong winds have been fueling the flames and even with decades of experience firefighting Trauernicht says the destruction is hard to comprehend.
“You just can’t understand the size and magnitude of it unless you’re here.”
Several firefighters in Trauernicht’s department have lost their homes in previous wildfires and know exactly what those affected by the camp fire are going through.
Having been on the front lines of the firefight Trauernicht says the gravity of the situation can take weeks to hit.
“A lot of times the emotional piece of it doesn’t hit until you have a chance to stop and take a breath.”
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