Fighting fires a family affair for Ochoas
No one in Truckee was happier to see local firefighters return from the recent fires in Southern California than Linda Ochoa, whose husband Larry and son Ryan were both members of strike teams sent from this area to help battle the fires.
Ochoa understands that being part of a firefighting family means that sometimes her loved ones will be placed in harms way. Her husband Larry is currently a Captain with the Truckee Fire Protection District.
Larry spent a week in Southern California as a strike team leader trainee, helping to organize firefighters from many departments in this and other areas.
Traveling to fires out of this area is nothing new to members of the Ochoa family. “You just know that they’re going to go someplace (each summer),” Linda Ochoa said.
What made the recent Southern California fires even more stressful for Ochoa was the fact that her son Ryan also went south as a member of a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection strike team.
“This time was a little different because I had two people to be concerned about,” Ochoa said. This was Ryan’s first summer working as a firefighter for CDF.
“With this fire they called me everyday or every other day. I knew exactly where they were and exactly what was going on. When that firefighter was killed, I knew that they weren’t at that particular fire, so that was a lot easier, knowing where they were, that they were OK.”
Even given the cell phone contact, Ochoa admitted to being hungry for news of the fires while her family members were away.
“Everywhere you go you’re watching CNN at work, or Headline News. At home you can’t wait for Channel 3 to come on – whatever station, every newspaper… The Internet has been awesome; it’s a really good way to follow things. Even the Sierra Sun had a lot of information in it. It makes it really exciting.”
Rounding out this firefighting family is the Ochoa’s oldest son Mike, 22, who works for North Tahoe Fire but was not sent to the Southern California fires, and their youngest son Mark, 15, who also plans to follow in his father and brothers’ footsteps.
Even given all the risks, Linda Ochoa is happy that her boys have found a career they enjoy.
“I think it’s great. I’m really proud of them. I think there’s more pride than fear… I know that this is what they’ve chosen to do, and I don’t know if statistically they would be more likely to have something happen to them going to work in their private vehicle. At least they’re doing what they want to do, and that’s what’s important to me – that they’re doing what they love.”
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