Willow Creek, Calif. (KIEM)- Back at the National Forest Service base camp, the main camp for the Six Rivers Lightning Complex fire, a therapy dog named Kerith makes her way around camp before crews head out for the day. She provides some much needed comfort and joy to the lives of those working on the front lines of the fire.
“We have the privilege of having these therapy dogs come to our base camp with us, and that kind of gives us a little bit of happiness for our day. Who doesn’t love dogs and. Every time I see these guys running around, it seems like everybody’s really drawn to,” said firefighter Dustin Vlumenthal.
“It’s a good distraction. It’s a good moral flip. In a sense, in a good way, obviously,” said firefighter Gene Rodriguez.
“You know everybody loves dogs, you know? But it’s really nice to see them walking around and you get to pet them and kind of like. Kind of keep your mind off things for a little bit. Like the hard stuff. And then obviously go back to reality and go back to work but it’s awesome to have the dog around,” said firefighter Charlie Ramirez.
Kerith is a valued member of First Responder Therapy Dogs. A non profit aimed at providing emotional support to those who need it most.
Heidi Carman is the Executive Director and founder of First Responder Therapy Dogs. She says that their organization is aimed at providing emotional support to first responders.
“We provide therapy, dog love, support, and cuddles to first responders. So that means like here at this fire, we’re going around to base camp and greeting all the firefighters in the morning before they go off for their shift. Just to give them a piece of, like, home and normal and calm,” said Carman. “When we’re not at the big fires, we do fire station visits, police department visits and dispatch… After a bad call, we get called in, bring in the dogs for some love and cuddles.”
The support comes at a perfect time, as today’s weather might bring obstacles and trouble for firefighters.
“So today we have a red flag warning in effect that was issued by the National Weather Service in Yreka. It’s in effect from 11 a.m. today to 11 p.m. tonight, and that is to cover the threat of thunderstorms and dry lightning,” said James White, the Incident Meteorologist Trainee at base camp.
White goes on to say that the possible storm is a concern that personnel are preparing for. “We’ve already seen some lightning firing off over eastern Siskiyou County, over Monterey in the Bay Area. And so we expect thunderstorms to move north throughout the day. Mostly on the east side of the fire is the most likely location,” said White. “And so that could provide some lightning, which could cause some new starts. And it could also create gusty outflow winds up to 40 miles an hour. So everybody is briefed on that. And it’s going to test the fire a little bit today.”