‘Walking Where the Devil Dances:’ A Local Firefighter Writes About Fighting the Fires Day After Weary Day

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This letter by, Jeremy Swartz, originated as a comment but, with his permission is shared here.


Backfiring on the Humboldt Complex. [Photo from the Miranda Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page.]

I was called from Miranda [Volunteer Fire Department] to help respond to the lightning fires. We hit the Pine Fire running with all other volunteers in Humboldt. We all felt the pride, the fear, the pain [and] we looked to each other for strength to pull through this fire we called hell. Day 1…day 2…day 3 came and we needed a breath of fresh air. Day 4…our strength was falling..Day 5 came and we felt the tears of it all. …[W]hen we looked to each other for something or anything, we saw the pain …and through that we found strength from deep within.Day 6…our boots were so heavy, we couldn’t bear the weight…[T]hen we hit Alderpoint [Volunteer Fire Department] station and enter with awe. A room of stuff from everywhere all over Humboldt. Our fellow people gave us a breath of fresh air and a lump in our throat. As I walked away, I couldn’t thank the people enough for the…simple things that gave us a stronger step to kick some a–.We hit the line with strength from deep within. Day 7…we hit with all we had deep in the night. We pushed with all our strength and the fire was pushing harder…Just when we felt we couldn’t push anymore, a strike team from San Diego showed up and became our shield.I feel the fallen knew our pain and sent us some protection. To see and feel a group of men and woman show up like that when you need them the most makes you feel as if they are sent from the heaven above. When they were told thank you for showing up with tears in my eyes, they replied with the same tear no thank you for holding the front till we got here. How do you reply to that other than a look into each other’s eye’s and feel one thing Get Some.As day 8…9 and 10 come and go, we are in awe as we see the push from all the firefighters come as one and push the fire back. With pure exhaustion we step back, demob,…breathe and come home. We did it. We came home. Without the selfless acts from our locals and other firefighters, I could never be what I am today–humbled.To all whom took the call, I stand with pride knowing I stood beside you. From one firefighter to another, stand with pride as we stand for all. Get some and God bless. To the Miranda 5, I’m proud to be one and to all the firefighters’ families, thanks for supporting and putting up with us as we walk where the devil dances.

UPDATE August 11: To donate to the Miranda Fire Department, mail a check or money order to PO Box 160, Miranda, CA 95553. Or just deposit money in the bucket at the Miranda Market. In addition, consider contacting your local fire department and donating to them. Or contact the Southern Humboldt Fire Chief’s Association, this organization can use your support also.

In addition, Jeremy says, “To support the firefighters go outside, make signs, stand on the side of the road, wave in big groups. Flood them with that. At this time no donation could bring them what a simple smile can. Don’t just go Humboldt. Go countrywide. Stand tall my fellow people as the firefighters stand for all.



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