BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — With burned out cars on the roadways and burnt homes, it seems almost everyone in Berry Creek lost something to the North Complex fire.
And firefighters battling the flames are no exception.
In his 28 years as a volunteer firefighter, Chief Reed Rankin has battled more than his fair share of flames.
“We seen the community of Paradise burn up and that was always in the back of our mind,” Rankin told FOX40. “If we get a wind event up here and there’s a fire, we’re going to be in trouble.”
His worst nightmare came knocking Tuesday as the North Complex fire closed in on Berry Creek.
Rankin went door to door racing to evacuate his neighbors.
“We told them, ‘Get in your car and go now. You have no time.’” Rankin said.
He didn’t even consider the fate of his own house until the next morning.
“I found out my home burned down. Everything you ever had collected, all your photo albums, everything you ever had in your life was just right there and it’s all gone,” Rankin said.
And he’s not alone.
Six of the seven volunteer firefighters in the town lost their homes too.
Rankin’s business making water wells was also destroyed, along with their fire station and equipment.
But rather than call it quits, he continues to fight the blaze.
“I don’t want to take any time off because I don’t want to sit there and think about what I lost,” Rankin said. “So, I’m just going to stay here and help my community.”
So, everyday he continues to fight the flames patrolling hotspots to prevent any further damage.
After all, he plans to come back to his hometown and make it feel like home once again.
“We’re just going to pick up our pieces. We’re going to stay strong and we’re going to try to rebuild as best as we can,” Rankin said.
Rankin did not have homeowners insurance so friends have started a GoFundMe page to help.