California National Guard pilots and crew members embarked on the most dangerous flight of their careers to rescue more than 200 people who were stranded and surrounded by wildfires this weekend.
Take a look at these shocking videos and pictures …
The large group that was rescued included dozens of campers that had no idea their Labor Day vacation would include their lives being in danger.
A fast-moving fire — now called The Creek Fire — moved towards their campgrounds in Sierra National Forest, covering 75,000 acres and spawning fire tornadoes. It even created huge plumes of smoke that were visible from space.
When the campers’ exit routes were no longer passable, the large group became trapped and California National Guard crews who were at their homes were notified.
With the option of waiting for better conditions, the crews decided to put themselves in harm’s way and proceed with the dangerous rescue … even though night was falling and the journey meant traveling through extremely dense smoke.
Flying in Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters, they used night vision goggles to navigate through the blinding smoke and find the campsite. The fire embers on the terrain actually helped them see better.
Landing just 50 to 75 feet from the approaching fire, the rescuers began to board as many evacuees as possible … women and children first.
They realized that there was little time and that multiple trips were required.
It was an intense rescue that required three trips … conditions getting worse with each attempt.
After each of the trips, the crews had to decide if they were going back or not … exhausted and extremely nauseous from the smoke.
Thanks to their heroic actions, over 200 people are alive today … and 16 dogs!
At Karmagawa, we’re so thankful that there are brave people out there like those in the California National Guard.
We celebrate and support these heroes who continually put their lives on the line to keep people safe and alive!
So much of California has been burned and we want to help. We started a fundraiser to help those affected by these fires. 100% of the money will go towards providing food and temporary shelter for firefighters and families … it will also go towards veterinary care for animals that need medical attention.
Please consider giving. Remember, no donation is too small because when we give together, we can give a lot.
Here’s the donation link.
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Once again … please think about giving for this cause. The people and animals of California need our help. Link is here.
What do you think about the heroic rescue that happened over the weekend? Leave a comment below.
(Cover image: Kyla Metzker/Shutterstock)