LINCOLN, Calif. (KTXL) — The American River Hotshots crew got an unexpected surprise while battling the Mosquito Fire when they received more than two dozen ‘thank you’ cards from a Lincoln fourth-grade class.
Brooklyn Tatosian, a fourth-grade student at Carlin C Coppin Elementary School, came up with the idea of sending the thank you cards after hearing her teacher talk about the hard work being done by fire crews on the Mosquito Fire.
As the pyrocloud from the Mosquito Fire loomed over the region, Alexis Radtke shared with her class the work being done by fire crews, including her husband Superintendent of the American River Hotshots Matt Radtke, to protect local communities.
Alexis Radtke said that after 11 years of marriage to Matt she has learned what it means when California’s fire season begins.
“It is always hard but with this fire I saw and learned a lot of things that I don’t normally see because it was so much closer to home,” Alexis Radtke said. “I saw the effects of sleep deprivation on him as he would come home for a few hours and then head right back out.”
Alexis Radtke said that her husband and his crew’s motivation to fight this fire inspired her to talk about it with her class.
Since the age of 18 Matt Radtke has been in the fire service, but getting these cards from his wife’s students will always be a special moment.
Matt Radtke said that though he and his crew do not do their work for the praise it is always nice to be acknowledged for their service.
“You say it is what we work for, but It is always great to be recognized by the community you serve and do your best to protect,” Matt Radtke said.
Before bringing the cards up to the crew, Matt and Alexis sat down at home and read every single one of the students’ cards together.
“You think to yourself it is such a small thing, but when he saw the cards and started reading them he was so thrilled and it was kind of surprising,” Alexis Radtke said.
Matt Radtke took the cards up to his crew that was still working the Mosquito Fire and was equally as surprised to see their reactions.
“I really wasn’t expecting the guys to react like they did,” Matt Radtke said. “They were so happy and they are still talking about it. Some of them hung their favorite cards up in the crew carrier.”
Matt Radtke said that some of his favorite cards were the ones with elaborate drawings of helicopters dropping water on the fire, tiny firefighters spraying massive flames with water and two firemen pulling hose lines.
As a way to say thank you Matt Radtke got his whole crew together in front of one of their trucks holding the kids’ cards and shouting a big “thank you” right back to Brooklyn, Alexis Radtke and her class.
When Alexis told her students about the video they all crowded around her cellphone before the end of their break to see if they could see which firefighter was holding their card.
The American River Hotshots are currently on their second 14-day rotation on the Mosquito Fire totaling 28 days on the fire, according to Matt Radtke.
The American River Hotshots is a certified crew with the Tahoe National Forest and is based out of Foresthill.
The Mosquito Fire has burned over 76,000 acres and is at 95% containment.