Around Sonoma County, firefighters battling the deadly wildfires can’t stop for a quick cup of coffee, bottle of water or a sandwich without a crush of handshakes, hugs and insistent offers of free Joe and food.
Homemade signs of thanks hang on fences, highway overcrossings and mailboxes in front of destroyed homes. Firehouses have become so buried in cookies, cakes and meals that some supplies have been sent on to shelters and homeless services. One touching mailed-in packet came from Oakland elementary students to Santa Rosa firefighters after smoke blanketed their school more than 60 miles away.
“Dear fire mans Thank You very much!” started one note that ended with a drawing of fire.
Arizona firefighters, on a two-day drive to Sonoma County, got a taste of the love long before they arrived.
“The closer we got to you guys the more people started to honk and wave and thumbs up,” said Beaver Dam Fire Chief Jeffrey Hunt, who was behind the wheel of one of five engines bound for Santa Rosa. “On Interstate 5 we got more and more. On 101 we got a whole bunch of it.”