Locals raise money for families of fallen firefighters | SierraSun.com

Locals raise money for families of fallen firefighters

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

Tahoe National Forest employees collected close to $10,000 during the “fill the boot” drive on Sunday to support the families of the five firefighters killed in a Southern California arson fire.

U.S. Forest Service personnel held out boots at Albertsons, the Gateway Shopping Center and downtown Truckee to raise money for the families of the San Bernardino National Forest firefighters who died fighting the blaze, which started Oct. 26 about 20 miles from Palm Springs.

All donations from Sunday’s fundraiser will go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, an organization that provides immediate financial and emotional assistance for the families of fallen firefighters.

“They (families) don’t get much,” said Linda Ferguson, Truckee Ranger District prevention officer. “This money will help them get on with life.”

Forest Service staff in Grass Valley and Auburn also held fundraisers on Sunday to contribute to the cause, she said, each also totaling close to $10,000 in donations.

Ferguson said a lot of people recognized the boots the firefighters were holding and knew their money was going to a worthy cause.

California Department of Forestry pitched in by filling up boots at the Highway 89 south and Donner Pass Road intersection, braving busy traffic to collect more than $3,000, Ferguson said.

Vicki Minor, executive director at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, said the families may have to wait as long as 10 weeks for government assistance.

“We go in there right away and give them money,” Minor said. “They have no idea of the grief process they’re going into.”

The funds will help with immediate needs ” like ensuring the car and mortgage bills are paid and providing food in the house, Minor said.

She said the donations the foundation receives will be divided equally among the families of the five firefighters who were killed.

Truckee’s contribution is a “heartfelt outpouring” to the families, Minor said.

“I haven’t seen that kind of money come out of a large community,” Minor said. “Little communities, we still know each other’s dogs’ names … what a generous community.”