San Angelo firefighters continue fighting California wildfires

News Connection

The crew has had to adjust to a completely different terrain from what they're used to here

SAN ANGELO, Texas — San Angelo firefighters Jade Hughes, Sontos Chavez and Travis Lee spent their second day on the job battling the massive Creek Fire in Fresno, California.

“It was exhausting. We were very, very busy. Yesterday at 7 o’clock was our first shift and we just got off (today) at 7 o’clock,” said Jade Hughes.

San Angelo firefighters Jade Hughes, Sontos Chavez and Travis Lee are in California this week, battling the Creek Fire near Fresno.

As of Tuesday, the fire has burned over 220,000 acres and is only 16% contained.

“The skies are covered in ash and the air quality is terrible. You can’t see too well. It looks like a thick fog but it’s actually smoke from multiple fires,” explained Hughes.

The crew has had to adjust to a completely different terrain from what they’re used to here.

“They’re solid. This is totally different than anything they’ve been in and they’ve been amazing. Chavez came with me two years ago when we came to California but this is different. Everywhere in California is different, just like in Texas. We’ve adjusted. We’re a good team and work well together. We keep each other grounded, we make sure we keep each other safe,” continued Hughes.

The men will be working alongside firemen from all over the U.S. and even international crews over the next two weeks, though their stay could be extended to 21 days.

“We’re working with several thousand different people from all over the US, Israel and different countries. We’re very engaged with the different communities, working with Cal Fire and the US Forest Service. We’re learning and watching them. They’re learning and watching us and our skill sets. The only way you can truly learn is to leave your area of comfort and try something new,” added Hughes.

Hughs says he hopes the crews can mitigate the fire soon to return home safely.

“Hopefully we’ll just be mopping up because that means the fire is out and under control and we’re just trying to mitigate the situation and trying to get rid of the hotspots. We hope we spend the rest of this time being good hands, representing San Angelo and the state of Texas very well. That’s what I want, for us to represent San Angelo to the best of our ability,” said Hughes.

Hughes added that he and the other two firemen are grateful for all of the support the San Angelo community has given them since they were deployed.

“It feels really good. The community has been solid for us. Everyone’s been praying for us and we can really feel it. The smoke is thick and allergens are flying through the air, we get massive headaches. We can feel the love and support. We appreciate everybody out there. Thank you San Angelo for allowing us to come to represent you and the governor for asking us to come. We love it here, we love representing our state,” added Hughes.

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